On the 12th of April, the MEN (Manchester Evening News) reported the UK Home Office's failure to safely house Shay Babagar and his family.
Shay and his family came to Greater Manchester last year after fleeing Pakistan where the 35-year-old human rights activist was involved in political groups fighting for the freedom of the occupied Balochistan region. Shay believes that he and his family's lives would be in danger if they were returned to Pakistan.
The MEN describes the abuse and inhumane conditions that Shay's family experienced in a Serco-run hotel in Stockport, Greater Manchester and their difficulties in securing safe accommodation through the Home Office. The Home Office has a statutory responsibility to house people seeking asylum. At the moment, the Home Office has contracted several private companies in England to provide accommodation in 'contingency hotels'. Shay went on hunger strike in November to highlight the conditions that people seeking asylum faced at hotels. Allegations of assault at the hotel where Shay's family were housed were reported to the police while he was in hospital, while RAPAR has for many months been challenging the conditions in these hotels in Manchester following several 'resident' reports of abuse and substandard living conditions. (See here and here.)
The MEN reports:
A refugee father and his family have been left 'homeless' following allegations he was assaulted at a hotel housing asylum seekers. Shay Babagar, his wife and daughter have been sofa surfing since leaving the hotel in November. The family refuse to return to an asylum seeker hotel.
Protesters stormed Stockport council offices on Tuesday (April 11), demanding the family is housed immediately. The local authority says it is bound by laws requiring the Home Office provides asylum seekers accommodation.
Greater Manchester Police have confirmed an investigation into a suspected assault on Shay at the hotel where they lived is ongoing, but no arrests have been made. Serco, which manages the hotel, 'completely refutes' the allegations.
The human rights activist went on hunger strike in November to highlight the alleged conditions asylum seekers are facing at hotels. Allegations of assault at the hotel where Shay's family were housed were reported to the police while he was in hospital.
Legal proceedings relating to the suitability of the contingency accommodation offered to Shay’s family are under way, but a judicial review has not yet been lodged.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that Migrant Help UK offered new accommodation for the family in Liverpool following the protest with help from the Home Office and Stockport council staff. But campaigners say the family was taken to a hotel in Manchester, which they refused to enter.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "As required by law, we provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with free, fully furnished accommodation, three meals a day and a weekly allowance. This applies from their point of arrival in the UK. We do not comment on individual cases."
Read the rest of the piece on MEN here. And see RAPAR's recent post on Migrant Voice's report on hotel conditions in England.