News

The Death of Mercy Baguma

25 August 2020

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Mercy Baguma, 34, was found dead in her flat in the Govan area of Glasgow by Police Scotland on Saturday 22 August 2020.

Friends say they had not heard from Mercy since Tuesday 18 August.

Her one year old baby son was found crying in his cot, weakened from several days of hunger.

Baby A was rushed to hospital and released Monday. The child’s father is caring for him, he is understood to be seeking asylum from a different country and resides elsewhere in the city.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said they had received a report of the sudden death at about 11.30am on Saturday 22 August.

“The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not suspicious. A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.”

We understand she was due to move into a Mears flat on August 19.

We understand she lost her job after her “limited leave to remain” expired and she was no longer allowed to work. She was relying on food from friends and charitable organisations.

Mercy Baguma wanted nothing more than to be good mum, an active citizen and to carve out future in Glasgow. Described as a “lovely” woman by friends, the young mum wanted the best for her son and worked towards building a life in Glasgow. Thousand of miles away from her native Uganda she joined a refugee community group, to welcome new arrivals to the city and help them set up new friendships. From September 2019, she attended every Friday morning with her son. Mahdi said:

“Mercy was a very alive person. She was always smiling and always happy. I remember her son was very happy too. She was a loving and caring mum. She was fun. She wanted to be active in the group, so her son could meet other kids and make friends. For her, that was important – that her son met other kids, kids that were both refugees and local kids.”

This is the third tragedy affecting Glasgow’s refugee community in less than 4 months.

On May 6, 2020, a 30 year old Syrian refugee, Adnan Walid Elbi, was found dead in his room at the Mclays Guest House on Renfrew Street.

On June 26, one man was shot dead after stabbing six people including a police officer at the Park Inn hotel. Other asylum seekers had cited concerns about the state of the man’s mental health.

Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing said:

Mercy was in touch with our charity on August 11. Our casework team contacted her next day and she was to receive a crisis payment from our Emergency Relief Fund, Mercy had applied to us for support like hundreds of others left functionally destitute in Glasgow.

“Since Lockdown began, we are witnessing a humanitarian crisis in Glasgow. 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 your a refugee or migrant. You are left destitute and without resources.

“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.

“All our efforts since Lockdown have been focussed on trying to help people survive. However, Home Office asylum policy and the manner of accommodation moves has created unimaginable hardship. People are depressed – and the system seems designed to break spirits.

“It’s a matter of when – not if – the next tragedy occurs and this reinforces our resolve for a public inquiry.

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

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