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Glasgow MPs urge Home Office act to ensure asylum seeker's lives are not put at further risk

GLASGOW MPs have written to the Home Office urging action to ensure that asylum-seekers’ lives are not put at further risk, following reports they have been forced to walk for miles to access electricity and have had financial support withdrawn.

A letter from the city’s seven MPs was sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday, demanding a number of immediate measures to tackle the crisis. 

As reported by the Star, Home Office contractor Mears has required some under their care to travel for miles across the city to access utility top-ups, despite the coronavirus lockdown. 

Hundreds of asylum-seekers have also been forced out of their flats and into hotels, where they say social distancing is “impossible.”

Vulnerable women have told the Star that they fear for their safety after being placed in rooms in close proximity to men and some asylum-seekers have also been stripped of financial support.

Pointing out a number of “gaps” in the Home Office approach to the pandemic, the MPs called for automatic access to the asylum-support system. 

The parliamentarians also said that they wanted removals from flats to cease and action to ensure that all accommodation meets public-health guidance on social distancing, with financial support reinstated to everyone in the asylum system.

SNP MP Chris Stephens said: “It’s quite clear the Home Office and Mears are doing things without consultation or without thought or regard for the health and well-being of asylum-seekers in the city. 

“The long-term solution is giving them a right to work. We are in an immediate crisis.  

“Public-health advice is not being followed and lives are at risk.”

The latest call follows a joint letter from the Commons home-affairs and work-and-pensions committees requesting clarity on asylum-seekers’ future in Britain. 

Charities working with refugees have said that the Home Office must “step up” and support those under its care. 

Scottish Refugee Council chief executive Sabir Zazai warned: “It’s a matter of life or death.

“The Glasgow MPs have set out practical, achievable and sensible measures the Home Office can take to keep people safe. 

“We stand with them in our readiness to work with the Home Office and other partners to make sure this happens.”

The Home Office had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.

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