From the heart:
How many more people will this Government kill? Mercy Baguma is the latest victim in the growing number of people who have died at the hand of the inhumane and immoral “hostile environment” policy instituted by this Government against refugees and migrants.
Organisations in the Status Now Network are witnessing every day the desperation and destitution caused by this policy which has been intensified by COVID-19 pandemic.
We are currently supporting hundreds of men, women and children, who have been made impoverished and destitute because of these punitive and draconian immigration policies. These include 15 Filipino women who are pregnant or with young children, who are destitute and impoverished because they have no recourse to public funds and nor are they allowed to work. Instead they are relying on the support of a small community organisations to survive.
We call for the regularisation of these vulnerable people.
We hold the Government responsible for Mercy’s death and the destitution and suffering of hundreds of other women like Mercy Baguma who are undocumented in the UK, and their children.
Tragic Mercy Baguma, a refugee from Uganda, lost her job in Glasgow after her limited leave to remain in the UK reportedly expired and she was no longer allowed to work.
[Read the full account here: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mum-living-extreme-poverty-found-22573411]
Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing said: “This is the third tragedy to affect the city’s refugee population in as many months.
“Mercy contacted our charity on August 11 and said she was not getting any financial support yet had made an application to MigrantHelp.
“Had she lived she would have been a high priority for a crisis payment from our Emergency Relief Fund like hundreds of others left functionally destitute by the asylum system.
“The question remains, why are mothers and babies being left to go hungry in this city, why is it being left to charities and volunteers to pick up the pieces?
“Does society have anything to say about that other than call them a drain on society?
“The fact is there is no safety net if you’re a refugee or migrant.
“You are left destitute and without resources. And you’re left silenced by far right rhetoric for being forced to ask for help.
“Would this mother be alive if she was not forced out of her job by this cruel system that stops you from working and paying your way because a piece of paper says your leave to remain has expired?
“I’m sure Mercy’s son will want to ask this and other questions once he is old enough.”
Refugee charity Positive Action in Housing said Ms Baguma had claimed asylum and lived in “extreme poverty”.
It said she her lost her job after her right to work in the UK expired.
Her son was found next to his mother, crying and “weakened from several days of starvation” according to Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing.
The boy was taken to hospital and released on Monday 24 August, and is now staying with his father.
The charity said Ms Baguma had contacted them several weeks ago saying she did not have enough money to look after herself or her child.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “This is a tragic situation and our condolences go to Ms Baguma’s family.”
They added: “The Home Office takes the wellbeing of all those in the asylum system extremely seriously, and we will be conducting a full investigation into Ms Baguma’s case.”
Friends and relatives became concerned for their welfare when communication with Ms Baguma ceased on Tuesday 18 August.
Ms Qureshi said: “Why are mothers and babies being left to go hungry in this city, and why is it being left to charities and volunteers to pick up the pieces?”
She added: “Would this mother be alive if she was not forced out of her job by this cruel system that stops you from working and paying your way because a piece of paper says your leave to remain has expired? I’m sure Mercy’s son will want to ask this and other questions once he is old enough.”
The charity said Ms Baguma’s death was the latest tragedy to hit Glasgow’s refugee community in less than four months.
One man was shot dead after stabbing six people including a police officer at the Park Inn hotel on Friday 26 June.
At the start of May, a 30-year-old Syrian refugee, Adnan Walid Elbi, was found dead in his room in temporary hotel accommodation in Glasgow.
Positive Action in Housing has repeated calls for an independent inquiry into asylum seeker accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Baguma, originally from Uganda, was found on Saturday 22 August beside her one-year-old child, who was described as “weakened from starvation” by human rights charity Positive Action in Housing.
Her child has since been treated and released from hospital.
Now, organisation RefSol Collective Glasgow has planned a protest at UK Immigration and Visa offices in Cessnock’s Brand Street for 26.8.2020 at 4pm.
They say: “Join us in mourning a Glasgow Mum who lost her life due to the neglect of the home office after her right to work was stripped from her and she fell into destitution.”
“Enough is enough. We want justice.”
Ms Baguma is understood to have lost her job after her limited leave to remain expired and she was no longer able to work.
She had also claimed asylum while living in extreme poverty with her son and relied upon organisations such as food bank charities.
A fundraiser in her memory was launched following the announcement of her death, with over £12,000 raised so for her funeral fund.
Organisers of the GoFundMe page said: “Mercy has left her one-year-old son and family back in Uganda.
“We are raising money to give her a proper send-off and something for her son. Please consider helping out her loved ones through this difficult time as they navigate this tragedy and move forward in life without her.
“Donations will go directly to her son and family to help with end of life costs and future expenses.”
The fate of an asylum seeker shows the inhumanity of our migration system
One would have thought that in the sixth richest country in the world, malnourishment and hunger would be a thing of the past. Yet this week Mercy Baguma, an asylum seeker from Uganda who was living in “extreme poverty”, was found dead next to her malnourished baby in a Glasgow flat. Baguma’s body was only found because of the cries of her child.
Reports indicate that Baguma lost her job after her limited leave to remain immigration status expired and that she had been relying on food from friends and charitable organisations. Sadly, this precarious dynamic is commonplace in my casework folder and across the UK.
This unspeakable, avoidable tragedy is indicative of the inhumanity that is embedded in our immigration system. Frankly, deaths such as these are a stain on our collective soul. While billionaires and big corporations record ever-increasing profits, it is shameful that our people are dying of hunger…
After outrage at her death in Glasgow, people who knew her recall her vibrant spirit and devotion to her son
Mercy Baguma loved colourful lipsticks: red, blue, purple – the brighter the better. It was a reflection of her personality, says a close friend. “Mercy was a rainbow,” she said. “She had such a vibrant spirit. As a friend, she would always put you first. She really was the best of the best.”
Baguma, 34, was found dead in a flat in Glasgow at the weekend next to her distressed one-year-old son, prompting outrage as reports circulated that she and the boy had been “starving”, the latest victims of a brutal asylum system.
But as the week has progressed a more complex picture has emerged. Through speaking to close friends and associates, the Guardian has pieced together a fuller picture of Baguma as a mother, a friend and a daughter, whose father was a former Ugandan MP. Above all, a person, rather than a symbol of systemic failure. Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/aug/28/friends-paint-fuller-picture-of-mercy-baguma-she-was-a-rainbow
10.9.2020: Guardian: Boris Johnson agrees to help father of Mercy Baguma’s child stay in UK
PM pressed to help resolve asylum application for child’s father, who is now the boy’s sole carer.
Johnson was pressed by the Scottish National party MP David Linden at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday to arrange an urgent meeting with the home secretary to resolve the asylum application that has been pending for the child’s father, who is now the boy’s sole carer.
David Linden, MP for Glasgow East, said: “The tragic case of Mercy Baguma has shone a light on the UK’s callous asylum policies that have pushed countless people into further hardship.
“This boy has been through more than any one-year-old should ever have to, yet his future hangs in limbo while the Home Office prolongs his father’s asylum application.”
At PMQs, Johnson sent “deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mercy Baguma”, adding: “We take very seriously the wellbeing of all who are in the asylum system”.
Linden said he was grateful to the prime minister for agreeing to intervene on his constituent’s behalf. “Rather than dragging on their worries, the Home Office must resolve the case and ensure that the boy and his dad can get on with rebuilding their lives in Scotland without uncertainty.”