Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Housing the Dispossessed

I am very distressed at the decision of the UK Border Agency to relocate 600 refugee households. This decision has apparently been takes as a result of the termination of the contract with Glasgow City Council to house these people.

Letters have apparently been sent to 600 households advising them that they will be given 3-5 days notice to move from their homes. Each household will be allowed to take two pieces of luggage per person, plus baby equipment, children’s toys and disability aids. This action will effectively mean the potential removal at extremely short notice of 1,311 people from their current homes to undisclosed destinations within Scotland.

From a psychological perspective, this action can have devastating effects on people who are already very vulnerable. It will also affect children who will have to be taken away from their school, their friends and their local connections. Many of these people have already had to suffer forced, sometimes violent uprooting, fleeing their countries through fear for their lives. Another forced uprooting can have dire consequences. Refugee families and their children are not objects that can be stashed or shifter about at the stroke of a pen. They are human beings and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect irrespective of the place where they happened to be born.

Positive Action in Housing has written to the Prime Minister asking him to intervene in the negotiations between Glasgow City council and the UKL Border Agency. The Kirk is entirely in support of this action. Moreover, as a minister within a community which is working actively with asylum seekers, I encourage everyone to be present at the protest which will take place on Brand Street in Govan the 20th of November supporting the refugees against this appalling action.

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