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Glasgow MPs call for inquiry into deaths of three asylum seekers
Glasgow MPs call for inquiry into deaths of three asylum seekers avatar

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By Catriona Renton & Mary McCool
BBC Scotland

A group of Glasgow MPs have called for a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the deaths of three asylum seekers.

Adnan Walid Elbi, Badreddin Abedlla Adam and Mercy Baguma all died this year while in the care of the UK asylum system.

While each death happened separately, in a letter to the Lord Advocate MPs said they were linked to "broader social and situational factors".

It follows criticism of the city's asylum seeker "accommodation crisis".In May, Mr Elbi was found dead in his room in temporary accommodation at MacLays Guest House – the 30-year-old had fled his home in Syria. The cause of death was marked as "unascertained".The following month, Mr Adam from Sudan was shot dead by police after stabbing six people, including an officer, at the Park Inn hotel.

Asylum seekers had been moved there in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which the Home Office called a "temporary measure".

Badreddin Abadlla Adamimage copyrightHome Office

Refugee charity Positive Action in Housing held a press conference following the incident, which heard some of the asylum seekers in the Park Inn were "desperate and vulnerable".

The asylum seekers said many of them had no windows or fresh air in their rooms. They also said they had been in a dire mental health situation.

Then on 22 August Ms Baguma, originally from Uganda, was discovered dead in a flat after her toddler son's crying was heard.

Positive Action in Housing said Ms Baguma had claimed asylum, but lived in "extreme poverty" and lost her job after her right to work in the UK expired. The cause of her death is still being investigated.

'Home Office-sanctioned poverty'

In the letter seen by BBC Scotland, the seven MPs highlight how the men were moved from housing with financial support to a hotel room in the city centre, when "all monies stopped on arrival".

They said there were "no apparent vulnerability assessments" carried out.

They also said it was unclear whether Ms Baguma was receiving asylum support, although "she was in the asylum procedure".

The letter reads: "We have long been concerned about the quality and adequacy of the accommodation and financial support provided by the Home Office to asylum seekers under its jurisdiction.

"In our experience, housing is typically sourced at the low end of the private rental sector. Financial support amounts to £37.95 per week per person, amounting to about only half of the social security minimum.

"It is also our clear view that this amounts to Home Office sanctioned severe poverty at best and utter destitution at worse."

The letter is signed by Glasgow MPs Chris Stephens, Stewart McDonald, David Linden, Anne McLaughlin, Alison Thewliss, Patrick Grady and Carol Monoghan.

The Crown Office was unable to confirm receipt of the letter, dated 18 September, but said all correspondence would be responded to in due course.

Can improvements be made?

If commissioned, a fatal accident inquiry investigates and determines the circumstances of a death in Scotland.

Chris Stephens MP believes the process could potentially link the three cases and shine a light on any failings in the asylum system.

He said: "I think the asylum system is not treating people with respect and dignity.

"It's just not right that asylum seekers are living on £37 a week – that's what I was earning as a new trainee 30 years ago.

"We need to know if there are improvements that can be made."

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

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