Inquiry appeal after mum found dead beside starving baby

The body of asylum seeker Mercy Baguma was discovered by police in a Govan flat on Saturday.

Inquiry appeal after mum found dead beside starving baby
Inquiry appeal: Mercy Baguma's body was discovered on Saturday.

A human rights charity has again called for a public inquiry after a mum was found dead in a Glasgow flat.

The body of asylum seeker Mercy Baguma, from Uganda, was discovered by police in Govan on Saturday after friends said they last heard from her on August 18.

Positive Action in Housing said Ms Baguma’s one-year-old son was “found crying beside his mother’s body, weakened from several days of hunger”.

The charity has launched a fundraising appeal for the child, who is now in the care of his father, and his future welfare needs.

Ms Baguma’s death is the third tragedy linked to Glasgow’s refugee community in less than four months, Positive Action in Housing said.

On May 6, 30-year-old Syrian refugee Adnan Walid Elbi was found dead in his room at the McLays Guest House.

Then on June 26, Badreddin Abedlla Adam, 28, was shot dead after injuring six people including a police officer during a knife attack at the Park Inn hotel.

Glasgow: Badreddin Abedlla Adam was shot dead at the Park Inn Hotel. Getty Images.Jeff J. Mitchell via Getty Images
Glasgow: Badreddin Abedlla Adam was shot dead at the Park Inn Hotel. Getty Images.

Positive Action in Housing said the Home Office asylum policy created “unimaginable hardship” and was “designed to break spirits”.

Ms Baguma, 34, lost her job after her limited leave to remain expired and she was no longer allowed to work.

After living in extreme poverty, she claimed asylum and was relying on food from friends and charitable organisations.

Ms Baguma’s cause of death is not yet known but her family have been made aware.

Positive Action in Housing is demanding a full and independent public inquiry into the “humanitarian crisis” in Glasgow.

The charity wants Ms Baguma’s death investigated, as well as the death of Adnan Walid Elbi, the events leading to the Park Inn hotel incident and the “accommodation crisis”.

Robina Qureshi, director of the charity, said: “This is the third tragedy to affect the city’s refugee population in as many months. Mercy was in touch with our charity on August 11.

“Our casework team contacted her within a day to assess her for a crisis payment from our Emergency Relief Fund – as a mother with a baby she was a high priority for a crisis grant, and Mercy had applied like hundreds of others left functionally destitute in Glasgow.

‘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? Does society have anything to say about that other than call them a drain on society?’

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing

“Since lockdown began, we are witnessing a humanitarian crisis in Glasgow. Very few other agencies are working physically on the ground.

“We are working on the ground with the support of volunteers and see first hand the misery being created by the asylum process.

“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?

“Does society have anything to say about that other than call them a drain on society?

“The fact is there is no safety net if you’re a refugee or migrant. You are left destitute and without resources.”

Ms Qureshi added: “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.”

Police said Ms Baguma’s death was being treated as “unexplained, but not suspicious”.

On Tuesday, the Home Office said it will be conducting an investigation.

A spokesperson 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.”