Home Secretary urged to look asylum seekers in the eye and tell them 'they are at it'


A Church of Scotland minister has urged the Home Secretary to visit his parish and look desperate asylum seekers in the eye and “tell me they are at it.”

Rev Brian Casey extended the invitation to Sajid Javid today after Serco, the company contracted by the Home Office to provide housing, announced plans to evict more than 300 people in Glasgow who have been denied asylum by the UK Government.

Rev Brian Casey
Rev Brian Casey, minister of Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, he wrote: “It would be absolutely unconscionable to think that human beings, no matter what legal status they may have, are tossed out on the street, children included, to live an uncertain future in a city they regard as home.”

Mr Casey of Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow is leading the campaign to ensure 10-year-old orphan asylum seeker, Giorgi Kakava, and his grandmother, Ketino Baikhadze, are granted indefinite right to remain in the UK.

Referring to the Serco announcement, the minister said: “These are people who have fled their homeland and lived under the strict controls of the Home Office and have followed every directive given to them, including living in penury until their decision is heard.

“I know that many people, with no idea of the reality of the asylum process in the UK, will say that they are only here as economic migrants seeking to exploit our benefits system.”

Compassion

Mr Casey has told the Home Secretary that he did not believe that people have come to the UK for this reason.

“ I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come to the north of Glasgow as my guest and visit my parishioners,” he wrote.

“Come and hear their concerns and listen to the asylum seekers.

“Look them in the eye and tell me that they are ‘at it’.

“UK citizens in my parish and around Glasgow are helping asylum seekers furnish their homes despite having very little themselves.

“The people of Glasgow care and I would ask that you and your department start to care too.”

Church of Scotland congregations the length and breadth of the country, supported by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees, are actively working to support asylum seekers and refugees.

Right Rev Susan Brown
Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Susan Brown, and Somer and Areeb Umeed, who are seeking asylum with their parents.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council, said: “The Church of Scotland is deeply, deeply concerned at plans to evict up to 300 asylum seekers from their homes in Glasgow.

“Whilst these are individuals and families who have had their right to remain in this country turned down, past evidence suggests that half will win their appeal against that decision.

“In the meantime, we have a clear moral responsibility to be providing housing.

“Many of those facing eviction have already needed to flee their homes in the past from appalling violence, terror and war.

“It is unacceptable that this should be happening.”

Rev Dr Richard Frazer
Rev Dr Richard Frazer

Rev Linda Pollock, minister of Possilpark Parish Church in Glasgow, is campaigning to stop the Umeed Bakhsh family from being deported to Pakistan where Christians are persecuted.

Nearly 62,500 people have signed a petition urging the Home Secretary to allow brothers, Somer, 15, and Areeb, 13, to stay in their Glasgow home and continue their education.

Right Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly, said forcing the family to live in limbo for six years, while their asylum application was considered, was “cruel”.

The UK Government has repeatedly rejected the family’s plea for asylum, largely because officials do not believe they would be at risk in Pakistan where blasphemy carries the death penalty.