Oscar Okwurime, a Nigerian man whose death in a detention centre in the UK is the subject of an investigation by the Home Office, repeatedly said he was feeling sick in the weeks leading up to his death.
He died last week at the Harmondsworth removal centre, where he was found by another detainee. According to family members, the 34-year-old repeatedly told authorities he was ill but did not receive medical attention.
“I told him straight away: ‘tell the authorities there and they will get you checked,'” Okwurime’s brother, identified only as Alex, told The Independent newspaper.
“That first week, they didn’t do anything. And the second week, he said they were still saying nothing. The last time I saw him, he told me he was on a waiting list of about 400. He said he was feeling pain in his side.” .
Alex, who said his brother did not have any health issues before his detainment, called Oscar’s death “a pure case of negligence”. “If someone is in your custody and telling you they’re not feeling well, it’s your duty of care to get them checked,” he said.
The family’s story was corroborated by two people who knew Okwurime from the Harmondsworth facility. According to one, the Nigerian asked staff repeatedly for a doctor but was told “this was not a quick process” at the facility.
The other said Okwurime tried to get an appointment with a nurse. He had been in detention for about three weeks after entering the UK on a visitor’s visa and subsequently asking for asylum.
The UK has been criticised regularly for its system of indefinite detention for those seeking asylum. 📷: Independent newspaper