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The death of Mercy Baguma: is the UK asylum system broken or just cruel?


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Last month the cries of a distressed toddler led Glasgow police to the body of his mother, a 34 year-old Ugandan asylum-seeker. Mercy Baguma could not work because of Covid, and she was an NRPF – with No Recourse to Public Funds because of her asylum status. She died in “extreme poverty”. Is there any justification for the system that let this happen, or is it, as Claudia Webbe MP has said, a stain on our collective soul?

Chair: Giles Whittell, Editor and Partner, Tortoise

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Yvonne Blake is the co-founder of MORE (Migrants Organising for Rights and Employment) in Glasgow. She is a lifelong advocate of social justice, collective responsibility, lifelong and life-wide learning. Her activism focuses on providing practical support through capacity building, networking and skills sharing to empower the migrant community, which she believes are fundamental in the transformative process of black economic liberation and self-actualisation.

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Last month the cries of a distressed toddler led Glasgow police to the body of his mother, a 34 year-old Ugandan asylum-seeker. Mercy Baguma could not work because of Covid, and she was an NRPF – with No Recourse to Public Funds because of her asylum status. She died in “extreme poverty”. Is there any justification for the system that let this happen, or is it, as Claudia Webbe MP has said, a stain on our collective soul?

Editor and invited experts

Editor: Giles Whittell
Editor and Partner, Tortoise

Robina Qureshi is the executive director of Positive Action in Housing, a Scottish refugee and migrants homelessness and human rights charity that is involved in countering racism and discrimination, particularly in housing. She is a notable critic of the UK’s asylum policies and has campaigned to stop inhumane treatment and close detention centres for asylum seekers.

Yvonne Blake is the co-founder of MORE (Migrants Organising for Rights and Employment) in Glasgow. She is a lifelong advocate of social justice, collective responsibility, lifelong and lifewide learning. Her activism focuses on providing practical support through capacity building, networking and skills sharing to empower the migrant community, which she believes are fundamental in the transformative process of black economic liberation and self-actualisation.