Calls grow for public inquiry after asylum seeker found dead next to baby

Calls are mounting for a public inquiry into the death of an asylum seeker whose body was discovered beside her malnourished baby.
Marcy Baguma's body was discovered in her flat in Glasgow's Govan area at the weekend.Marcy Baguma's body was discovered in her flat in Glasgow's Govan area at the weekend.
Marcy Baguma's body was discovered in her flat in Glasgow's Govan area at the weekend.

Police found Mercy Baguma’s one-year-old son crying alongside her body in her Glasgow flat at the weekend, after friends reported not having heard from her since last Tuesday.

Ms Baguma, from Uganda, was seeking asylum and was reliant on food donations from friends and charitable organisations.

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The cause of her death is unknown. Her family in Africa have been informed. Her son was taken to hospital but was released on Monday, and is being cared for by his father, who also lives in Glasgow.

The Positive Action in Housing charity said she had contacted them on 11 August to say she was not receiving any kind of financial support.

It is understood Ms Baguma, who was in her thirties, had 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.

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The charity’s director, Robina Qureshi, warned it was the third tragedy to strike the city’s refugee population in less than four months, and demanded an investigation into Ms Baguma’s death.

“The question remains, why are mothers and babies being left to go hungry in this city, and why is it being left to charities and volunteers to pick up the pieces?” Ms Qureshi asked. “Does society have anything to say other than call them a drain on society?

“The fact is there is no safety net if you are a refugee or migrant. You are left destitute and without resources, and people are being silenced and shamed by far right rhetoric for being forced to ask for help.

“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.”

The tragedy comes after Adnan Walid Elbi, a 30 year-old Syrian refugee, was found dead in his room at the McLays Guest House in Glasgow’s Renfrew Street in May. The following month, one man was shot dead after stabbing six people including a police officer at the city’s Park Inn hotel. Other asylum seekers had cited concerns about the state of the man’s mental health.

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Ms Qureshi added: “It is a matter of when – not if – the next tragedy occurs and this reinforces our resolve for a public inquiry and to get rid of any pretence that the Home Office wants to find out the pain it is causing with its evaluation, which seven Glasgow MPs are now boycotting.

"We demand a public inquiry and Mercy’s death to be investigated alongside Adnan Walid Elbi, the Park Inn tragedy and the deadly accommodation crisis created by Mears’s insensitive hotel moves. We call on the Church of Scotland and all of civic society to support our call for an independent public inquiry.”

A fundraiser via GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for Ms Baguma’s funeral costs, and help raise money for her infant son.

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