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Vigil held in Glasgow after young asylum-seeker dies

THE death of a young asylum-seeker in Glasgow has raised questions over the conditions in hotels where hundreds of refugees have been moved during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Migrant rights groups held a vigil this afternoon for the young man, believed to be in his twenties, who they claim was trying to get help and was in “great distress” before he died. 

One of the organisers, Glasgow No Evictions, said that the man had recently been forced out of his accommodation and into a hotel in the city centre. 

The man is believed to be one of the 300 asylum-seekers who were moved to hotels in April from self-contained flats under the direction of the Home Office. 

Asylum-seekers said at the time that they had been given no warning by the housing provider Mears Group about the sudden move. 

The Home Office also stopped their allowance of £35 per week and replaced it with communal meals, which must be eaten alongside other people staying in the hostels. 

Asylum-seekers claimed that social distancing in the hotels was “impossible” and expressed fears of catching the virus from communal spaces. 

The Home Office refuted this, claiming that asylum-seekers were only moved “where it is necessary, strictly following guidance from public health authorities, and into accommodation that ensures social distancing.”

However, Glasgow No Evictions said that the conditions in the hotel where the young asylum-seeker was staying were “horrendous.”

It is not currently known how the man died.

The campaigners claimed that before his death he had informed a housing officer at Mears that he needed help but that this visit was “continuously delayed.”

The group said in a statement that the government had “failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect.”

Campaigners are demanding that the Home Office move all asylum-seekers to safe accommodation. 

Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment said in a statement: “Members of the asylum-seeking community, human rights and migrants’ rights campaigners have repeatedly expressed concerns that asylum-seekers’ specific needs and vulnerabilities were not been considered in Mears [and] Home Office enforced mass eviction.

“All our concerns fell on deaf ears of [Mears regional head of operations] Steve Robbins [and] his accomplices.”

UPDATE: May 11

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of an incident resulting in an individual sadly losing his life.

“It would be inappropriate to comment before all of the facts have been established and his family have been notified.”

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