Iraqi man awaiting asylum kills himself while chatting with wife

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Thirty year old Iraqi asylum seeker Hussein Ali Abdel Amer hung himself in the asylum shelter in Alphen aan den Rijn on Saturday while talking on the phone with his wife, who is still in Iraq with his children. The long waiting time before getting clarity about his refugee status and his incapability to return to his family were too much for him, the Gelderlander reports.

According to the newspaper, Amer left his wife and three children in the war in Iraq and traveled to the Netherlands in the hope of finding a safe existence for them. But his family could only join him once his asylum application was dealt with and he received refugee status. On Thursday a number of asylum seekers in the Alphen aan den Rijn shelter were told that this could take up to six additional months.

Amer already came to the conclusion that he better return to his family. Frustrated by the long wait, he traveled to the reception center in Ter Apel, where his passport was confiscated when he arrived in the Netherlands. Passports are confiscated to make sure they are not fake. Three times he tried to get his passport back, so that he could voluntarily return to Iraq, but all three times were in vain. He asked the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA for help, but was told to make an appointment and that would take at least two weeks.

On Saturday he could take no more. He hung himself during a telephone conversation with his wife. "His wife had no money to care for their children and herself or to buy food", Akram Shawki of the Foundation Hope for Asylum Seekers said to the newspaper. "Completely desperate, he filmed his cell room, to show his wife where he stayed and hung himself during the call. He saw no way out."

A friend found him and, with the help of the center staff, took the body down and laid him out on the grass. He could not be resuscitated. The other asylum seekers held a spontaneous demonstration in the parking lot of the asylum center following the suicide. "Why did you not listen to this Iraqi?" they wanted to know. "Why are you treating us like prisoners? Like criminals?"

The suicide also led to the ChristenUnie posing questions in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, Hart van Nederland reports. Parliamentarian Joel Voordewind will be visiting the asylum center on Monday. He wants to know from State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice how this could have happened. According to Voordewind, the man was completely despairing. "He had his wife on the phone and she wanted his hip in Baghdad with the kids. But he had just been told that it would take at least another three months before he would get his answer about his stay in the Netherlands, and that he could not go back before then."

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