Pensioner denied eye operation joins "growing list of most vulnerable denied help" - Refugee Council
November 7, 2006

Pensioner denied eye operation joins “growing list of most vulnerable denied help”

This Tuesday 7 November, delegates at a Refugee Council conference in Yorkshire will hear how many of our most vulnerable residents are denied essential health and social care due to a Government policy driven by its target for asylum removals.

Among those affected by the policy is an elderly Eritrean man, currently living in Sheffield. Mohammed Abulbeker, 65, was denied surgery for cataracts earlier this year because his asylum case was refused. His eyesight had deteriorated so much that he fell down the stairs on several occasions. Since then Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers from all over Yorkshire have donated money to help him and have been able to pay over £1200 for him to have surgery on his left eye. Mr Abulbeker, who at one point had to sleep on the streets and in bus shelters still needs surgery on his right eye.

Nancy Kelley, Head of UK and International Policy at the Refugee Council, who is speaking at the conference, said:

“Sadly stories like this are becoming more and more common. This gentleman joins a growing list of the most vulnerable people denied help in the name of a tough asylum system.

We have known of asylum seekers in effect left to die of cancer and kidney disease, and mothers giving birth without medical support, at home, alone because they are not allowed treatment or are fearful of bills they can’t possibly pay.

They are often presented with bills for thousands of pounds, which are then passed on to debt collection agencies.”

“It’s cruel to deny people like this medical treatment. That’s why we have launched the campaign Just.Fair – to urge the Government to restore full rights to healthcare for all those who claim asylum in the UK. What’s so wrong about treating people right?”

The conference is supported by the King’s Fund and SCIE, the Social Care Institute for Excellence