Pinar Aksu reviews the reality that awaits people seeking asylum and refuge in Scotland.
At the start of the pandemic and lockdown, when everything seemed unsure, people seeking asylum and refuge were evicted from their homes across Glasgow and placed in hotel accommodation. They were only informed on the day of the move and were given thirty minutes or so to pack their belongings without being told where they would be going. Placing more than a hundred people in hotel detention was not right and should not be normalised. It was widely condemned.
In May 2020 we lost our friend Adnan Elbi in one of the hotels in Glasgow. As campaigners and organisations continued to raise concerns for these provisions, their voices were not listened to. Later, Badreddin Abadlla Adam, 28, who was moved into a hotel at the start of the lockdown, lost his life at the Park Inn hotel in June 2020, shot by a Police Scotland officer. 72 times he had contacted the Home Office, the housing and social care provider Mears, and the charity Migrant Help about his health. His voice was ignored.
At the moment, people are in hotel detention across the country. The process takes people’s dignity and freedom. There is neither justice nor accountability concerning the lost lives of those undergoing the inhumane and cruel practice of hotel detention in Glasgow. In November, the final report of Asylum Inquiry Scotland was published. Commissioned by Refugees for Justice and led by Baroness Helena Kennedy, the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Asylum Provision in Scotland with particular reference to failings in the provision of care to New Scots during the Covid pandemic report found that the tragic series of events surrounding Badreddin Abadlla Adam’s death were ‘avoidable’ and that a public inquiry is now essential.
Meanwhile, myths circulate. With ongoing cuts to services in local communities, it becomes easier to target the most marginalised rather than the government that has been underfunding and cutting services for many years. Against this narrative, we need more conversation and understanding about the experiences of people who are being placed in ‘hotel detention’. What are their rights? Why are hotels being used?
Hotels that are used to accommodate asylum seekers make profit from their contracts with the Home Office. While those who are in the asylum process recieve £45 per week in the form of Asylum Support, people living in hotel accommodation recieve £9. These hotels are often located where it is difficult to access essential services, and it is common for people to get moved between hotels, which makes it difficult for them to know the community, or for people in the community to know them. With living costs rising, the Home Office is forcing people to live in ever deeper poverty, while hotels profit.
Pinar Aksu works with the Maryhill Integration Network, which is part of the Lift the Ban coalition that is campaigning to change the regulations so that people can work after siz months and be independent, rather than dependant on Home Office support. Maryhill Integration Network also runs a campaign on the right to education: ‘Access to Education – Our Grades Not Visas’.