Mercy Baguma: A Need For Change

Abi Kara-Fernandes 

On Saturday the body of Ugandan refugee Mercy Baguma was discovered through the sounds of the cries of her malnourished one-year-old son lying next to her. Although the death was initially treated as “unexplained” by Scotland Police, the true cause of this tragedy quickly became evident; the inhumane xenophobia embedded into the immigration system of our country.

There should be no system in place that forces a mother into destitution, nor a baby now without a mother. Yet, merely weeks after the death of Yemeni asylum seeker Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah Alhabib, these situations are not just commonplace. They are worsening.

Snowballing anti-migrant policies and rhetoric are causing a ‘rapid increase’ in the number of refugees and asylum seekers facing poverty.  

At only thirty-four years old, Mercy was living in extreme poverty, after her leave to remain expired, forcing her into unemployment.

With a government who seeks to impose an immigration plan that requires migrants to prove their worth in our supposedly superior country, it seems preposterous that after working hard to be self-sufficient for fifteen years, Mercy was flung into a hostile environment.

With no safety net, she was left to rely on donations from friends and charities alike, whilst waiting for her claim for asylum to be approved

With no safety net, she was left to rely on donations from friends and charities alike, whilst waiting for her claim for asylum to be approved.

But in the sixth richest country in the world, why is it the responsibility of volunteers to care for those who are not only trying to create a new life for themselves, but also those have already succeeded in doing so?  

Mercy was a rainbow”, an awe-inspiring mother, full of warmth, whose highly avoidable death lies in the hands of the government.

Direct action must be taken – an inquiry is simply not enough. With SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon calling for Scotland to be given powers over migration since 2018, perhaps it is time for the Home Office to admit the policies created to essentially force migrants to ‘voluntarily leave’, simply result in inhumane treatment that needs to be changed. 

Abi KaraFernandes

Featured image courtesy of  Jon Tyson via Unsplash. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image. 

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