Blind asylum seeker suicidal after Home Office inaction on claim

A blind asylum seeker says she has been left suicidal after the Oficina en casa has failed to interview her about her case since she arrived in the UK 19 Hace meses.

Sanaz Derikvandi, 33, was studying for a PhD in English literature in her home country of Iran when she says she had to flee because she converted to Christianity.

Though she is blind due to glaucoma and more than 30 operations have failed to restore her sight, she travelled overland by lorry through Europe with her mother, Fatemeh Derikvandi, 59. They arrived in the UK in August 2019, many months before the pandemic started.

Pero 19 months since her arrival the Home Office has still not interviewed mother and daughter about their cases, although officials have moved them to different accommodation four times.

“I’m tired and frustrated and disappointed,” said Sanaz Derikvandi.

En Mayo 2019 it emerged that the Home Office was scrapping a service standard introducido en 2014 to process 98% of straightforward asylum claims within six months. “We have moved away from the six-month service standard to concentrate on cases with acute vulnerability,” the Home Office said at the time.

Sanaz Derikvandi’s previous MP, Steve Reed, representing Croydon North, has written to the Home Office several times about the delay in interviewing her.

The Home Office acknowledged the delays and apologised to the MP “for the inconvenience these delays may have caused”, explaining that scheduled interviews had been cancelled because of the need for a face-to-face interview due to her blindness.

En 11 marzo, Reed received a response from the Home Office saying: “I can confirm that Ms Derikvandi’s correspondence has been received and passed on to the casework team who will fully take it into consideration whilst processing her claim.”

Sanaz Derikvandi said that she and her mother came to the UK to save their lives but unless or until the Home Office processes their claims they cannot be safe.

“I can’t see democracy in the UK because I’m totally blind but I wanted to touch democracy with my fingers and with my heart. I’m waiting for a miracle," ella dijo.

Rosemary Brown, a volunteer for the charity Care4Calais, who is supporting Sanaz Derikvandi, dicho: “Sanaz said to me that the Home Office has stolen her pride and her identity and robbed her of her spirit. Her GP and Samaritans are involved to try to ease her depression. I fear she may take drastic actions.”

Un portavoz del Ministerio del Interior dijo: “The government is committed to ensuring asylum claims are considered without unnecessary delay but some cases can be more complex and take longer to process. We are actively prioritising Miss Derikvandi’s case and an interview has been scheduled for this month and we apologise for the delay.

“Our processing of asylum claims was impacted by the global pandemic which restricted our ability to conduct interviews in person, but we are taking steps to increase capacity and focusing on process improvements to deliver decisions more efficiently, including prioritising older claims and those made by vulnerable individuals.”

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