- 30 Aug 20
On Friday, Hot Press reported on the sad death by suicide of a young man from Afghanistan, in a makeshift Direct Provision centre in Co. Monaghan. He has now been named as Muhammad Arif Ahrar.
The Afghan community in Dublin has raised funds for the repatriation, to the place of his birth, of the body of Muhammad Arif Ahrar (pictured), an asylum seeker who died while living in an emergency Direct Provision Centre in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.
Muhammad Arif Ahrar, died following a period of Covid-19-related self-isolation, at Treacy’s Hotel. He is said to have died by suicide.
A young man, Arif was born in February 1990, although residents at Treacy’s Hotel had previously told us that he looked about 25.
Hameed Wasily, a member of the Afghan community in Dublin, told Hot Press that Arif’s family could not afford to pay for his return home.
Wasily explained that, in Ireland, the cost of ‘posthumous reunion’ runs to about €8,500. While the family could not afford that cost, the Afghan community in Dublin has now pulled together to raise the funds.
“One of the members of our community has raised up to €4,000,” Hameed said, “and that has already been transferred to the funeral directors account.”
The cost of repatriating the remains of a man or woman from a different country includes the price of pickup, embalming, dressing, coffin, shipping container and airfare.
Wasily made the point strongly to Hot Press that the Afghan community does not wish to seek financial assistance from the Department of Justice, or any other State agency, for the transfer of Arif’s body. It is clearly a point of pride for the Afghan community here in Ireland.
“We have emigrated from Afghanistan due to lack of peace, not financial difficulties,” he said. “Muhammad Arif was a great example of a well-educated man who came from an educated family, but lost his life in Direct Provision, seeking asylum in Ireland.”
Wasily, who has been living in Ireland for the past 17 years, said Arif came here in search of a better life. The community, he said, does not need the State’s posthumous support.
In a statement to Hot Press, issued late last week, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice had said that they would consider ‘humanitarian’ options if a deceased asylum seeker’s next of kin indicates lack of financial means for repatriation.
“In the first instance, any request for assistance regarding repatriation of the deceased should be made to the appropriate consular authorities by the next of kin,” the spokesperson said.
“If they are not in a position to provide assistance to the family, any request subsequently made to the Department will be considered to determine what help may be provided from a humanitarian perspective.”
PLANNED RETURN TO AFGHANISTAN
Arif is believed to have been living in Treacy’s Hotel for the past eight months. The Department of Justice had previously told Hot Press that it is running 33 emergency accommodation centres across the State. They did not clarify the acceptable length of time an asylum seeker can spend in one of these makeshift centres.
The Department recently announced to Hot Press the closure of one such makeshift accommodation in Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, after we reported on sub-standard conditions at the centre.
Residents at Treacy’s Hotel said that Arif was battling mental health difficulties, and his condition had worsened following a Covid-19-related isolation stint at the centre.
They said he was planning to return to Afghanistan, finding the unstable, hotel life that he was subjected to under the Direct Provision system difficult to endure. Residents claim that the young man found the experience of self-isolation in a small room, incredibly difficult. Arif had reportedly appeared restless and distraught, in recent days.
FLEEING CONFLICT AND WAR
Between 2007 to 2017, forty asylum seekers have died while living under State care. This number includes stillborn babies and one 'neonatal death'.
In recording fifteen of these cases, the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) has described the cause of death as either ‘unknown’ or acknowledged the death by merely writing ‘died’.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice described Arif’s death as a ‘tragic incident’, adding that they could not further comment on individual cases.
They said the HSE is providing support for residents of the Monaghan centre, during these ‘difficult times’.
A recent study published in the Journal of European Psychiatry revealed that asylum seekers fleeing conflict and war were increasingly susceptible to self-harm and suicide.
“Refugees and asylum-seekers may face unique risk factors for mental disorder before, during, and after their migration leading to suicidality,” the study states.
The mental health cost of the coronavirus pandemic is also deemed to be significant, although researchers say that it is too early to assess the impact of the health emergency on mental health, accurately.
• Suicide prevention hotlines can provide support to anyone affected by the sensitive topics raised in this article. Call Samaritans Freephone 116 123 or email [email protected]