Mercy Baguma: Fundraiser for malnourished baby found next to dead mother reaches £25,000

‘Would this mother be alive if she was not forced out of her job by this cruel system?’ asks human rights charity on death of asylum seeker

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Wednesday 26 August 2020 13:12
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Mercy Baguma was found dead by police in a Glasgow flat
Mercy Baguma was found dead by police in a Glasgow flat

A campaign set up to help the family of a woman found dead next to her malnourished son at a flat in Glasgow has raised more than £25,000.

Mercy Baguma, from Uganda, was said to be living in “extreme poverty” as an asylum seeker in the city when she was discovered by police on 22 August.

The Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) charity said the 34-year-old’s infant son was released from hospital on Monday and is now being cared for by his father, who is living elsewhere in Glasgow and is also thought to be claiming asylum.

PAIH said Baguma had lost her job after her leave to remain in the UK had expired and she was no longer allowed to work. She was relying on food from charities and friends, who last heard from her on 18 August.

The death has sparking an outpouring of concern over the plight of destitute asylum seekers in the UK. The £27,000 raised so far by the online fundraising campaign will go to Baguma’s funeral and her son.

The cause of Baguma’s death is not yet known, but the Crown Office said Scotland’s Procurator Fiscal had received a report in connection with the death and an official investigation is under way. The Home Office said it would also investigate.

The PAIH human rights charity said it is the “third tragedy to affect the city’s refugee population in as many months” after a Syrian refugee was found dead in his room at a guest house in May.

In June Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead by police after six people were injured in a knife attack at the Park Inn Hotel.

PAIH director Robina Qureshi said: “Mercy contacted our charity on August 11 and said she was not getting any financial support, yet had made an application to Migrant Help.

“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.

She added: “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?”

“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 is calling for a public inquiry into the recent deaths in Glasgow and into asylum seeker accommodation in the city.

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service spokesman said: “The investigation into the death, under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing and the family will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “This is a tragic situation and our condolences go to Ms Baguma’s family. 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.”

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