Everyone at the Jesuit Refugee Service UK is deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Mercy Baguma, a mother with a young son, who died in Glasgow on Saturday 22nd August.
Naomi Turner, JRS UK Communities of Hospitality Coordinator said, “As we reflect on the tragic death of Mercy Baguma, and our thoughts go out to her child and family, it is terrifying to realise how easily it could be repeated. At JRS UK we work with people who have fled here for safety, but are forced into deep destitution. We regularly speak to people who are in extreme poverty – without enough food and constantly worrying about where they are going to sleep that night – as a consequence of government policy. And for those theoretically entitled to asylum support, the systems in place to facilitate it so often prove woefully inadequate.”
We understand that Mercy had been left destitute following the loss of her job after her limited leave to remain expired and had been relying on donations of food from friends and charitable organisations. People seeking asylum and those without immigration status, are routinely barred from working and cannot access the benefits system. In our experience, people are left with no way to meet their basic needs and can be left in this situation of limbo for many years. Forgotten by society and wholly reliant on the generosity of others and the support of charities like JRS UK.
Naomi continues, “This must never be allowed to happen again. A new approach that truly focuses on ensuring sanctuary seekers get the support they need, and allows them to work to support themselves, is badly needed.”
Sophie Cartwright, JRS UK’s policy officer, added “The tragic, preventable death of Mercy Baguma sits at the feet of a system that manufactures poverty among those seeking sanctuary here. Now, we are reminded that this system poses a grave danger to human life. It is long past time to end destitution, and replace it with a culture of protection that supports the participation of all.”
Mercy’s son, her family and friends are in our prayers today and this week.
We invite you to join us in prayer today:
We pray for Mercy Baguma and her grieving loved ones, especially her infant son Adriel.
We pray that no one be forced into destitution and hunger because of their immigration status and for an end to the hostile environment.
May all those seeking asylum in our country be shown welcome, something Mercy’s friends say she showed to all.
May our society be one which feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, welcomes the stranger, clothes the naked and visits the detained, knowing that you unite yourself to all who suffer.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, JRS has been working to support over 300 destitute refugees and their families with essential survival packs of food and toiletries, mobile phone top-ups to help people stay connected, and crisis hardship grants.