Spare rooms appeal for eviction-hit refugees

Rahman Shah, left, and Mirwais Ahmadzai are on hunger strike. Picture: John Devlin

A charity has called on Glaswegians to volunteer use of their spare rooms amid concerns over the eviction of more than 300 asylum seekers.

Public services firm Serco has begun the process of removing the refugees – who do not have leave to remain in the UK – from their temporary accommodation by changing the locks.

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The Room for Refugees initiative, run by the charity Positive Action in Housing, currently has around 350 hosts in Glasgow, but said it needed an extra 100 volunteers to offset the impending evictions, which the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) yesterday described as a “clear violation” of the human rights responsibilities of Serco and the UK government.

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, said: “We’re already struggling to cope. We need about 100 volunteers in Glasgow who are prepared to offer spare rooms. If they have empty rooms, please come forward so we can start the process of people being put into shelter.”

Ms Qureshi said a demonstration planned for Saturday aimed to overturn what she called Serco’s “dangerous and immoral strategy”.

In an open letter to Glasgow City Council published earlier this week, Serco’s chief executive, Rupert Soames, said it was the company’s intention to give notice to no more than six single adult males this week and 12 next week.

“Serco’s reluctance to evict people has resulted in the number of people whose housing we are paying for increasing from 167 to 330 in the last 12 months. Many of these people are single males who no longer have the right to remain in the UK,” he said.

Yesterday Judith Robertson, chairwoman of the SHRC, said she was “deeply concerned” about Serco’s actions. She said: “Both the UK government and Serco have human rights obligations to these groups.

“In particular, the UK government has an obligation to ensure rights are upheld not only in law and policy, but through relevant procurement and contractual arrangements. Locking people out of their homes, leaving them destitute and vulnerable on our streets, is a clear violation of these human rights responsibilities.”

Afghan nationals Rahman Shah, 32, and Mirwais Ahmadzai, 27, are carrying out a hunger strike out the Home Office in Glasgow in protest at the plans.

Mr Ahmadzai said: “We are here on behalf of all asylum seekers. We want justice for all asylum seekers.”