Mum of first migrant to die at Manston asylum centre asks for return of his body

'The centre that became a symbol for Britain's broken asylum system where an asylum seeker spent his final days in pain,' ITV News Investigations Correspondent Daniel Hewitt reports

By ITV News Interviews Producer Harry Peet

The family of an asylum seeker who died just a week after arriving in the UK have told ITV News they are now calling on the government to get his body back home.

Hussein Haseeb Ahmed, 31, from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, died last month after he was held at the Manston asylum procession centre in Kent.

Haseeb was taken to the QEQM hospital in Margate by Border Force on November 14, having arrived in the UK by small boat but died five days later.

His death attracted widespread media coverage when it was revealed that he had tested positive for diphtheria having been taken ill at the facility in Kent, becoming the first migrant there to have died.

It was through this reporting that Haseeb's family first learned of his death.

Speaking from their family home in Chamchamal, Northern Iraq, his cousin Tariq Jaff told ITV News: "People can be witness that he was a unique boy.

"He went to make a good life for him and his family.

"We found out from the news that he had caught a disease from France when he travelled to Britain."

In the last voice note he left his family, Haseeb described how he had 'never had a bad illness like this'

Haseeb left his home in Northern Iraq in mid-October, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. 

From there, he travelled to Turkey and then by boat to Italy before arriving at the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais, Northern France.

The last Haseeb's family heard from him was in a voice note where he told them of how he was beginning to feel unwell: "My throat is stuck together. I swear I can’t eat anything, I can’t even swallow water. I vomit when drinking water, I have never had a bad illness like this."

An inquest into his death, which opened last week, heard how he was first taken to A&E by Border Force, but was treated and discharged back to Manston.

Haseeb's mother, Parwin Ahmed, told ITV News she just wants her son's body to be returned home

He was taken back to hospital five days later, when he died, with blood tests later revealing multiple-organ failure.

Haseeb's mother, Parwin Ahmed, cried as she spoke, saying: "I don't want anything. Just the body of my son."

In a statement, a Home Office spokesperson said: "Our thoughts continue to be with Mr Ahmed’s family and all those who have been affected by this loss. The family have been offered support by a Home Office family liaison officer.

"The post-mortem and coronial process is still taking place and we are working to ensure Mr Ahmed’s repatriation to Iraq happens as swiftly as possible."

The inquest into Haseeb's death has been adjourned until May 30 next year.

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