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Women asylum-seekers living in fear in government-provided accommodation in Scotland

WOMEN asylum-seekers with no financial support are living in fear after being removed from their accommodation and placed in hotels in close proximity to men, charities warned today.

Serious concerns have been raised about accommodation being provided by Home Office contractor Mears in Glasgow, with vulnerable women isolated in rooms next to men.

The warnings follow reports that Mears had stopped allowances and moved more than 300 asylum-seekers in Glasgow into hotels where social distancing is “impossible.”

With some hotels housing more than 100 asylum-seekers, concerns have also been raised that women’s needs are not being met, with hotels failing to provide sanitary products. 

One woman refugee, who arrived in Scotland in March, told the Morning Star that she was left in fear of the men with whom she now shares a floor. 

“I don’t feel that safe. I am in fear of men from my time in my own country and we are now mixed with them. They are in the next room,” she said.

Another told the Star: “The reason I came here is men did horrible things to me. I am constantly in fear. 

“Even though the rooms are locked, I do not feel safe.”

Support groups say that the refugees should be removed from the hotels urgently and returned to flats, with their financial support reinstated. 

A statement from the Asylum Seeker Housing Project said: “We’re concerned that single females in hotels are going to be isolated. That is not appropriate.

“Women, some of whom have experienced exploitation or are victims of sexual violence, understandably feel uncomfortable in that environment.”

There were also complaints that people were being provided with undercooked meals in close contact with dozens of other asylum-seekers, and that their only source of water was their bathroom. 

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “What Mears is doing not only lacks basic decency, it also places vulnerable people into danger during this public-health crisis. 

“The UK government needs to urgently intervene.”

A Home Office statement said: “We are only moving asylum-seekers where it is necessary, strictly following guidance from public-health authorities, and into accommodation that ensures social distancing. 

“This is to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Mears told the Morning Star that there was no alternative but to place asylum-seekers in hotels and that the “safety and wellbeing of each person is paramount.”

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