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Sixteen hours till heartbreak

It is now just sixteen hours before Justice Charles will be forced against his will to get on a plane to Sierra Leone, leaving his wife Ruby behind in Sheffield. Despite urgent calls to the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, no response has been made from the Home Office. The plane departs from Heathrow at 13.40.

Today his wife Ruby made the difficult trip to London to visit Justice in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. Ruby suffers from lupus and is in constant pain, but her love for Justice meant she had to go and see him. Now she does not know when she will see him again. She has pledged that if Justice is deported she will follow him, but this will mean having to leave her children and grandchildren. Ruby has no idea how she would raise the money for the fare, or how they could start a new life in Sierra Leone, where they would have no home or medical support. Indeed the mental health facilities in Sierra Leone are extremely primitive. One psychiatric hospital serves the whole country and some patients are chained up to prevent them self harming. Justice suffers from post traumatic stress following his terrible experiences during the war in Sierra Leone and has attempted suicide on three occaisions.

This is from the 2010 Human Rights Report
There is considerable stigma associated with and discrimination against persons with mental health issues. The Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital in Kissy, the country’s only in-patient psychiatric institution, had beds for 400 patients but housed only 100 patients due to staff and resource constraints, as the hospital was poorly funded by the government and received only small donations from private charities. Patients were generally released to their families or communities as soon as possible, and received follow-up counseling on a regular basis. The hospital estimated that 550,000 citizens needed some form of psychiatric care due to post-traumatic stress disorder arising from the 1991-2002 civil war, depression due to socio-economic problems, and drug abuse. Men and women were housed in separate wards, and there was no mingling between the sexes. The hospital lacked adequate beds and mattresses which are easily destroyed by the patients and could not provide sufficient food to sustain them. Patient restraints were primitive due to lack of resources. The hospital did not have running water and only sporadic electricity due to lack of funds to buy fuel for the facility’s generator. Basic medications were available, although the hospital suffered from a lack of a variety of drugs targeted at specific problems.

Topics: Asylum Seekers, Civil Liberties, Disabilities, Graham Wroe, International, Rob Unwin