A Nigerian man killed himself in Italy after authorities denied him a residence permit, a charity that hosted him has said.
Prince Jerry, 25, was a chemistry graduate and was continuing his studies at university having arrived from Libya on a boat two and a half years ago. In mid-January his appeal to stay in the country was rejected and he “fell into a deep depression”, according to sources close to Jerry, who was staying in Tortona in Piedmont at the time of his death.
Italian authorities have been denying residence permits in their hundreds and have started removing migrants from centres as the government’s hard line immigration measures kick in. Approved in December, the so-called Salvini decree – named after Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League – abolishes humanitarian protection for those not eligible for refugee status.
“After discovering he couldn’t even count on the humanitarian permission that was cancelled by the recent decree, one of our boys took his own life,” said Fr Giacomo Di Martino of the charity Migrantes.
Fr Alex Zanotelli, a member of the Comboni missionaries in Verona, described Jerry’s death as “a state murder, the bitter fruit of the Salvini decree, which besides insecurity produces deaths”.
In October, 22-year-old Jawo Amadou, from Gambia, killed himself at a reception centre in Castellaneta Marina in Taranto. His residence permit would have expired in March 2019 and his asylum application was rejected in 2016. In July, a 23-year-old Afghan man took his life in Kabul after he was deported from Germany along with 68 others.
“Many of the migrants and refugees we treat in our projects have already passed through traumatic experiences in their journey, in many cases with episodes of violence and torture in Libya,” Lilian Pizzi, a psychologist with Médecins Sans Frontières in Rome, told the Guardian.
“When they arrive in Europe they are often retraumatised by arbitrary policies that reduce their rights and by an atmosphere of hate and racism amplified by the media. And all this exacerbates a sense of powerlessness and exclusion.”