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14 May 2020

We are not ‘all in this together’: vulnerable asylum seekers feel the brunt of lockdown

3 mins

In the midst of this global pandemic we are all suffering a sense of loss and anxiety. However, there is a huge divide between those who are having to stay safe by staying at home and those who are entirely dependent on the State for their accommodation and income.  Asylum seekers and their families are often forced to rely solely on state aid, they are not allowed to work in the UK and many have fled dangerous situations with nothing but a few personal belongings.  This means that they have to rely on the government for everything.   

On 5th May 2020 a 30 year old Syrian asylum seeker called Adnan Olbeh died in a hotel room in Glasgow.  The circumstances of his death are not yet confirmed but what is known is that since the lockdown in March 2020, asylum seekers, including men, women and children, have been moved from self-contained flats in Glasgow into empty and sometimes run-down hotels.  The weekly financial support of £35.20 was stopped and they were all expected to rely on receiving 3 meals a day in the hotel, with a change of bed linen once a week.   The circumstances mean that social distancing and self-isolation is impossible, putting all the asylum seekers at risk of infection.   No advice was given as to how they were expected to follow the government advice in these circumstances. 

The fact that at least one asylum seeker has died since this transfer to hotel accommodation has taken place should be a source of deep concern to all of us. No information has been given as to why the Mears Group (the accommodation provider subcontracted by the Home Office) and the Home Office ignored the lockdown restrictions in place at the time that these individuals moved into hotel accommodation nor have they explained why they considered it necessary for these moves to take place.   If the Home Office feels that it can act this way in respect of the most vulnerable in society then we should also be concerned as to how the Home Office can be expected to act in respect of other vulnerable groups in the UK; we have already heard the horror stories of the pandemic spreading through care homes without any information on whether the government has taken any steps to bring this number down and prevent further deaths.  While the entire country is being exalted to rally together to fight the virus, it being staying at home or staying alert, it is deeply disturbing that the Home Office is flouting its own guidance and apparently hoping to get away with it.

asylum, immigrati, asylum, immigra

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