Probe after woman found dead ‘beside malnourished baby son’

A woman who had claimed asylum was found dead beside her malnourished son in a city flat, a charity has said.

Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) said Mercy Baguma, from Uganda, was discovered at the property in Glasgow by police on August 22 after friends last heard from her on August 18.

The charity said her son was found “crying beside his mother’s body, weakened from starvation”, and was taken to hospital.

The Crown Office said the Procurator Fiscal has received a report in connection with the 34-year-old’s death and an investigation is under way.

PAIH said it understands that Ms Baguma lost her job after her limited leave to remain expired and she was no longer allowed to work.

It said that, after living in “extreme poverty”, she claimed asylum and was relying on food from friends and charitable organisations.

The human rights charity said it is the “third tragedy to affect the city’s refugee population in as many months” after a Syrian refugee was found dead in his room at a guest house in May, and, in June, Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead by police after six people were injured in a knife attack at the Park Inn Hotel.

Positive Action in Housing director Robina Qureshi said: “Mercy contacted our charity on August 11 and said she was not getting any financial support, yet had made an application to MigrantHelp.

“Had she lived, she would have been a high priority for a crisis payment from our Emergency Relief Fund like hundreds of others left functionally destitute by the asylum system.

“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?”

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.”

Park Inn Hotel stabbings – Glasgow
Park Inn Hotel stabbings – Glasgow

The charity said the cause of Ms Baguma’s death is not yet known.

It said her son was released from hospital on Monday and is being cared for by his father, who lives elsewhere in Glasgow.

The charity is calling for a public inquiry into the deaths and into asylum seeker accommodation in the city.

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service spokesman said: “The Procurator Fiscal has received a report in connection with the death of a 34-year-old woman in Glasgow on 22 August 2020.

“The investigation into the death, under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing and the family will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”

The Home Office has been asked for comment.

Two online appeals have been set up to raise money for Ms Baguma’s funeral costs and for her son and can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/mercy-baguma039s-furneal-fund?utm_source=whatsapp-visit&utm_medium=chat&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet and https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/14196#!/DonationDetails