BY Ryan McDougall | November 22 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

homelessness

Bishop speaks out in fear for refugee evictions as homeless man dies in cold

BISHOP William Nolan of Galloway Diocese has said sub-zero ‘winter weather’ should make all those involved in the eviction of refugees ‘realise that this is not a legal matter but a moral one.’

The bishop, who is president of Justice and Peace Scotland, made the plea following the death of a homeless man in Glasgow on Sunday evening after being found in a freezing NCP car park.

The death comes after last week’s decision by the Court of Session on the lock-change evictions of asylum seekers in Glasgow last year as ‘lawful.’

Court ruling

On Wednesday November 13, the Scottish court ruled that lock-change evictions of asylum seekers without court orders conducted by the Home Office contractor, Serco, were not unlawful when it issued eviction notices last year.

Bishop Nolan added: “Human compassion demands that no one should be forced to live on the streets and that no asylum seeker should be evicted from their home until alternative accommodation is provided.”

Serco, which handed over the contract to Mears Group in September, is still housing about 150 people whose asylum applications have been turned down by the Home Office. It said it would now proceed ‘in a considered and sensitive manner’ to return these properties to their owners, mainly social housing landlords.

Glasgow Archdiocese said that ‘any policy which deliberately seeks to create a hostile atmosphere for such people or which penalises them unjustly, depriving them of the necessary means to live, is not acceptable.’

Care and concern

A spokesman for Glasgow Archdiocese said: “Pope Francis has repeatedly urged us to show a special care and concern for refugees and asylum seekers.

“The Church is at work in a huge variety of ways to offer help and support and care for the poor and those facing these bleak days of winter far from family and we will continue to do so, spurred on by the Holy Father’s example and exhortation.”

Justice and Peace Scotland, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland’s commission for social justice, has worked tirelessly to campaign for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

Condemnation

A spokeswoman for Justice and Peace Scotland said: “We have continually highlighted the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, urging that their human dignity be respected. Society has a duty of care to those in need. That is why the UK government’s policy which is leading to the forced eviction of asylum seekers is to be condemned.”

Grace Buckley of Glasgow Archdiocese branch of Justice and Peace Scotland said: “We believe in the unique value and worth of every human being as made in the image of God.

“Asylum seekers are among the poorest and most marginalised in our communities, facing the publicly stated ‘hostile environment’ of the UK government and often experiencing destitution for months and even years.

“Since the beginning of the lock-change issue, we have kept in close contact with those taking action for the affected asylum seekers through our membership of the Glasgow Asylum Destitution Action Network (GLADAN) and Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees (SFAR).”

Home Office response

The UK Home Office said if someone had no right to remain in the UK then there was no legal basis to continue to provide support.

However, it said it would still provide accommodation and support to those who would otherwise be destitute and who were temporarily unable to leave the UK because of practical or legal obstacles.

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