From one of our co-signatories: DEADLY ACCOMMODATION CRISIS FOR GLASGOW’S HOTEL ASYLUM SEEKERS – WE DEMAND A PUBLIC INQUIRY
In his response yesterday to an urgent question from Alison Thewliss MP about support for asylum seekers, Chris Philip MP, Home Office Minister stated that
“among those people accommodated in hotels there has not been a single confirmed case of coronavirus and therefore the steps taken to to safeguard the public and safeguard the asylum seekers in particular, have been successful.”
Mr Philps failed to mention that no-one had been tested, or acknowledge that asylum seekers in the hotels had complained of being denied medical attention and being confined to their rooms. He also failed to acknowledge that the mentally ill asylum seeker who attacked six people including a police officer in the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow was reported to be isolating from suspected Covid 19 and had been confined for 20 days in one of the hotels.
Mr Philp’s argument seemed to be ” it turned out good so we must have done something right”.
So would he apply the same test to the death of Adnan Elbi last month who told the Home Office – in writing through his lawyer – that he was suicidal in the Mclays Guest House and was then found dead in his hotel room five days later? Or to the mentally ill asylum seeker who nearly killed six people in the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow last week? Both were under the care of the Home Office and Mears.
Should the Home Office and Mears now say:“it turned out tragically wrong and we did something really bad”?
In fact, they deny that anything has gone wrong at all. In the ensuing press coverage, neither the Home Office or Mears has put up anyone to answer the concerns that had been circulating for months about the vulnerability of the asylum seekers under their care. Six Scottish MPs turned down a meeting with John Taylor of Mears last Friday because of “trust issues”.
In March 2020 the Mears Group forcibly moved over 350 vulnerable asylum seekers at initial accommodation stage from settled, available homes into hotels, bundled into vans 4 or 5 at a time, with less than half an hours notice, at a time when non essential travel – and evictions – were forbidden and millions were told to “stay home, stay safe”.Less than a month after moving asylum seekers from settled homes into hotels, 30 year old Adnan died alone in his room at the McLays Guest House. We have documented evidence that he had expressed suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide after being forcibly moved from his home at 30 St Andrews Square into the guest house.Five days before he died, the Home Office asked for a statement about his suicidal intentions but neither the Home Office or Mears took ANY action to provide any support.Six weeks later, in the Park Inn Hotel, six people were knifed by a mentally ill Sudanese asylum seeker, having been placed there by Mears alongside 100 other vulnerable people, including trafficked women, unaccompanied asylum seeker children and people with mental health trauma.
The common denominator in these incidents?Hotels used as long term accommodation for vulnerable people. And the dangerous role played by the Home Office and the Mears Group and their failure of duty of basic care towards hundreds of vulnerable people. Positive Action in Housing is now demanding a full public inquiry into what went wrong. Our key demands are:
1. We call on the Mears Group to arrange for the immediate return of 370 people to residential homes.
2. We call on the Mears Group/Home Office to immediately restore the basic allowance of £5.39 per day.
3. We call on the Home Office to expedite people’s asylum cases so they are not left waiting for a decision. they have been traumatised on their asylum journey, and retraumatised by the tragic incident of last week.
4. We call for a public inquiry into the events which led to the death of Syrian refugee, Adnan Elbi , who died at the age of 30 in the Mclays Guest House on May 5 2020 after warnings that he was suicidal, the tragic incident on Friday 26 June 2020 whereby one person is dead and six were injured including a police officer, and to find out whether Vulnerability Assessments were carried out, and the Home Office procurement processes which led to this deadly accommodation crisis and the use of hotel detention.
Thanks for your support.
Positive Action in Housing
Refugees for Justice: Manifesto 30 June 2020
We are grieving for Glasgow, for the lives that have been lost, for our fellow citizens who have sustained awful injuries, for our fellow refugees and asylum seekers, for our City. But we saw this coming. We saw this coming, and this makes the pain unbearable.
We are a group of refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow, with a simple, but very important question, to which we demand full answer:
Why did the tragedy of Glasgow Park Inn Hotel happen?
We do not deserve this. The City did not deserve this. None of the victims of this devastating tragedy deserve this. Staff members of Park Inn Hotel did not sign up to be detention guards, nor did the staff member of the Mears Group sign up and/or trained to be social workers or psychotherapists working with people who are fleeing persecution; people who are already traumatised, and further neglected by the system. The police officers who took the call did not know they would be involved in witnessing the serious injury of a colleague, or a fatal shooting. The neighbours and office workers on the street did not sign up for this.The asylum seekers who were injured in the hotel did not sign up for this. People come to Scotland for peace and sanctuary, not for violence.
So, why did this tragedy happen? What was the underlying causes of this devastating tragedy? We believe a broken, inhumane, and unjust asylum and immigration system that allows people to be treated this way, and allows our cities, communities and citizens to face such tragic consequences.
[Please read the full statement, this is an extract. You will find the full statement here: https://refugeesforjustice.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Refugees-for-Justice-Manifesto-30-June-2020-1.pdf?utm_source=Right+to+Remain&utm_campaign=2602dc73e9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_07_01_09_59&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_86e9507a23-2602dc73e9-61123157…]
- Those responsible for the inhumane treatment of people who seek asylum, and the policies and decisions that have contributed to the deaths and irreparable harm to the lives of our fellow Glaswegians to be held to account.
- Additional steps to be taken and specific support to be put in place to ensure that people who seek asylum and have been accommodated in hotel rooms feel completely safe and supported to talk about their experiences in an open and honest way without reprisal. Any process of enquiry to be co-designed with people who have lived experience of the asylum process in the UK.
- The UK asylum system that allows the abuse of human rights and the inhumane treatment of individuals to stop the abuse and make real changes for the better so that something like this never happens again.
Immediate actions that must be taken:
a) People who are asylum seekers in Glasgow must be returned to their residential accommodation immediately.
b) People’s basic financial allowance (£5.39) must be restored immediately.
c) The incident in Park Inn Hotel must be fully and independently investigated at every level of accountability to ensure that lessons are learned, this never happens again, and the failures of the system are exposed and justice done.
d) The guiding principles of the process should be care of those affected, regardless of immigration status, and the pursuit of the truth.
e) Witnesses of the incident should be protected, offered support and trauma counselling and their urgent practical needs met as with any other victims of crime or witnesses to criminal acts.
f) The families and communities of all affected should be fully supported to understand what went wrong and how it will be prevented from ever happening again.
Our message to:
Our fellow Glaswegians, you have made this city home for us. We make Glasgow together.
We will fight for changes so that all humans are treated with dignity, the truth is heard about the system failures, and justice is served. We will not let you down.
All the workers, police officers, residents, and neighbours of the hotel who were
affected by this tragedy, you do not deserve to go through this. We will be persistent to demand that you have all the support you need to recover, and all the space you need to make your voice heard.
Scottish Government, you have been progressive and positive towards us and we welcome your support. You have seen how the UK immigration and asylum policy results in gross human rights abuses in our cities. We ask you not to tolerate this anymore. We know that asylum and immigration policy is a reserved matter. But this is no longer a good enough excuse. We ask you to use all your powers to prevent human rights abuses in Scotland and to ensure justice for all. We ask you to ensure that new Scots who seek asylum enjoy the same rights and entitlements as every other person in Scotland.
UK Government, you have deliberately put people who seek asylum in adverse and inhumane conditions to make their lives as difficult as possible in the UK. You even have a formal name for this policy: “The Hostile Environment”. You have put in place a system that allows gross human rights abuses. As we have seen, the consequences of this unjust system is ultimately faced by our cities and our communities and our citizens. This has to stop now.
The Mears Group, we demand accountability for the deaths and irreparable harm to the lives of people who seek asylum, refugees, our fellow Glaswegians, as a consequence of your decisions and your failures to act to protect the lives of those in your care. We will push for a full and fair examination, by way of an independent inquiry or the scrutiny of a court of your failings.
We are launching Refugees for Justice on the 30th of June 2020, in response to the deep wounds our city has suffered as a direct result of inhumane treatment of people who seek asylum in the UK.
Our goal is simple: Justice.
If you want to support, please get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To get the latest update:
Visit our website: www.refugeesforjustice.com
Follow us on twitter: @refugee4justice
From 26 June 2020:
26.6.2020 INCIDENT IN WEST GEORGE STREET GLASGOW
The #ParkInnHotel #WestGeorgeStreet #Glasgow is one of several hotels used controversially by #MearsGroup to house #asylumseekers moved by #Mears from temp. homes into hotels without any money at all.
Syrian Refugee Adnan Elbi died last mth in Mclays Hotel suspected suicide in one of the hotels alongside park inn. Very desperate people living there including several of our service users. Adnan was one of 370 asylum seekers forcibly moved into hotels with no social distancing and no money , Park Inn Hotel is one of them. Also close to where far right activity has taken place.
Only yesterday, the Mears Group admitted to Scottish MPs that they had FAILED to do vulnerability assessments of asylum seekers who they forcibly moved.
See our twitter, Facebook and website about our concerns about the hotel detention of asylum seekers.
This story to be updated live on Facebook page.
Press enquiries 07581046473
Positive Action in Housing website: https://www.paih.org/
Positive Housing in Action reports: Coronavirus: Letter to Scotland’s First Minister Download
13.5.2020: Letter to the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon asking the Scottish Government to investigate why the Mears Group, in Glasgow, the largest and most densely populated city in Scotland, forcibly moved up to 400 vulnerable men, women and children from their homes into hotels.
This happened in April, during the Lockdown, when non-essential travel was forbidden and millions were told to “stay home, stay safe”.
Asylum seekers say they were given only a few minutes to pack, and then herded into small vans, 4 or 5 at a time. They were not asked if they had symptoms – they could be asymptomatic and therefore at increased risk to other asylum seekers and the public. Nor was any testing carried out.
New research shared by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests air conditioners can be a transporter of viruses. The problem is even greater in hotels where windows can’t open and poor, contaminated indoor air can’t escape, and if filters are not changed regularly. We have heard complaints from asylum seekers that they can’t open the windows of their hotel rooms to get fresh air.
Levels of depression are increasing. Many people are survivors of trauma and torture and suffering mental health problems because of the length of time they have been in the asylum system. People are growing increasingly desperate.
We find these testimonies disturbing, hotels are supposed to be closed during the Lockdown.
Hotel employees may also be subjected to an increased viral load in the workplace and then must go back out into the general community for a variety of essential purposes.
There are now several hotspots of potential Covid-19 outbreaks all over the city. Yet this was no homelessness situation where people had to be moved out of their homes. Several accommodation providers claim that they were told by agents for Mears Group at the start of April that their flats were no longer needed because people were being moved into hotels, and they would not be paid for the remainder of their contracts.
Immigration may not be a devolved matter, but the consequences of this particularly repellent reserved policy decision (if that’s indeed what it is, rather than simple greed by a Home Office approved contractor) extend to potentially harming the native, indigenous, host Scottish population.
The public deserve to know why Mears Group forcibly moved 400 vulnerable people at very short notice during a Lockdown out of their homes and into crowded hotels (where social distancing is impossible and there is increased risk of catching the Coronavirus in crowded dining rooms and lifts).
May 13 2020
Positive Action in Housing is a foundation signatory of Status Now. Now, more than ever we must all find ways to communicate about what is happening so that a just and effective future plan can emerge: No justice, No peace.
The Park Inn where the incident took place was being used to house asylum seekers during lockdown.
Robina Qureshi, director of charity Positive Action in Housing, said 370 refugees and asylum seekers had been “forcibly removed into hotels” across Glasgow at the beginning of April by the Mears Group.
She told BBC Radio Scotland: “These people were very, very vulnerable. They are people who have suffered trauma, torture or mental health issues as a result of years of waiting for their asylum cases.”