What are the medical risks of forced deportation to failed asylum seekers and how can they be prevented?

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What are the medical risks of forced deportation to failed asylum seekers and how can they be prevented?

Background

Asylum seekers are currently one of the most socially excluded groups in the U.K. and Government policy over the last few years has become increasingly focussed on the criminal justice system. Many reports of abuse of asylum seekers have surfaced in the press recently, particularly in relation to enforced removals, where asylum seekers are deported to another country. Injuries and even deaths have been reported.

Aim

To investigate what the medical risks, including physical and mental health, of enforced deportation are and what can be done to minimize or prevent these risks.

Method

Journals were searched using PubMed, Medline and Cinahl databases and appraised using the CASP assessment method. Search terms used included: (refugee*, asylum seeker* and deportation). Articles from newspaper websites and reports and statistics from relevant organizations and websites were also used, found through internet search engines. 1 qualitative study on the physical risks of enforced removals and 1 editorial article commenting on the psychological and physical risks of forced deportation were identified.

Results

Asylum seekers being deported often suffer from psychological disorders such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Physical risks associated with flying such as limb thrombosis can occur during deportation. Improper restraining methods used by security guards escorting asylum seekers during deportation can result in serious injuries to asylum seekers.

Conclusion

More research needs to be done in this area to provide more data. Only acceptable restraint methods should be used by security guards when escorting asylum seekers during enforced removals, and if an enforced removal fails, a medical examination should be provided to the asylum seeker immediately afterwards and funding for legal action should be provided where appropriate. Special consideration should be taken when deciding whether to deport asylum seekers with mental health problems and asylum seekers should be advised on the physical risks, such as limb thrombosis, associated with flying.

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