Glasgow, Scotland, Aug 1, 2019 / 11:48 am (CNA).- The Archbishop of Glasgow has written a letter to the UK Home Secretary calling the forced evictions of refugees and asylum seekers in his city “regrettable and harsh.” Those being evicted have failed in their asylum claims.
Serco, a provider of public services, began changing locks last week on housing it provides free of charge to asylum seekers in the city. The residents had been given eviction notices a year ago.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow wrote to Priti Patel, the UK’s Home Secretary, saying that “this measure is regrettable and harsh, bringing indignity and suffering on the refugees and asylum seekers, and dismay to the citizens of Glasgow.”
“I appeal to you not to make refugees and asylum seekers homeless, but to provide for them decent accommodation in accordance with their human dignity and human rights,” he wrote in the letter, published July 31.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office told The National, a Glaswegian daily, that “the UK only ever returns those who both the Home Office and the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and have no legal basis to remain in the UK.”
And a Serco official, Julia Rogers, said: “We very much regret the distress this will cause but hope that it will be understood that we cannot be expected to provide free housing indefinitely to hundreds of people who have been unsuccessful in their asylum claims and most of whom have no legal right to remain in the UK.”
Serco provides free housing for about 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow. It says it spends about GBP 1 million ($1.2 million) annually to house those who have had their asylum claims rejected.
The public services provider has said that “no children will be left without housing”, and nearly all the evictions are of single adults.
The evictions are being challenged in Scottish courts.
A judge dismissed a challenge in April arguing the evictions are unlawful without a court order, but that decision is being appealed.
Advocates for the failed asylum seekers want the evictions to be put on hold while the legal challenge continues.