Mercy Baguma: Govan mum found dead next to 'starving baby'

Image source, Postive Action in Housing
Image caption,
Ms Baguma is believed to have lost her job when her right to work expired

The death of a woman whose one-year-old child was reportedly found malnourished beside her body is being investigated.

Mercy Baguma, originally from Uganda, was discovered in a flat in Glasgow on Saturday 22 August after the sounds of her son crying were heard.

A police spokesperson said her death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.

Refugee charity Positive Action in Housing said Ms Baguma had claimed asylum and lived in "extreme poverty".

It said she lost her job after her right to work in the UK expired.

Her son was found next to his mother, crying and "weakened from several days of starvation" according to Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing.

The boy was taken to hospital and discharged on Monday 24 August, and is now staying with his father.

Tragic situation

The charity said Ms Baguma had contacted them several weeks ago saying she did not have enough money to look after herself or her child.

Another charity, African Challenge Scotland, posted video on social media of Ms Baguma thanking its volunteers for delivering food in early June.

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A Home Office spokesperson said: "This is a tragic situation and our condolences go to Ms Baguma's family."

They added: "The Home Office takes the wellbeing of all those in the asylum system extremely seriously, and we will be conducting a full investigation into Ms Baguma's case."

Friends and relatives became concerned for their welfare when communication with Ms Baguma ceased on Tuesday 18 August.

Ms Qureshi said: "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?"

She added: "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."

Call for inquiry

Positive Action in Housing said Ms Baguma's death was the latest tragedy to hit Glasgow's refugee community in less than four months.

One man was shot dead after stabbing six people including a police officer at the Park Inn hotel on Friday 26 June.

At the start of May, a 30-year-old Syrian refugee, Adnan Walid Elbi, was found dead in his room in temporary hotel accommodation in Glasgow.

Glasgow City Council's convenor for equalities and human rights, Jen Layden, said: "The tragic death of a young mum is devastating and my heart goes out to Mercy's family and friends - including her young son - at this sad time."

She added: "We are currently trying to establish the full facts of Mercy's case and await additional information from the Home Office and Mears."

Positive Action in Housing has repeated calls for an independent inquiry into asylum seeker accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clarification added on 29 August 2020: The charity Positive Action In Housing later clarified its description of the condition of Mercy's baby, saying:

The reference to Mercy's baby "starving" was in relation to the window of time from August 18 to 22 when nobody had heard from her. It was not a reference to their general state before August 18.

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