glasgow asylum seeker

Syrian Asylum Seeker Dies in Glasgow Hotel

Relocated Asylum Seeker Found Dead in Glasgow Hotel

A Syrian asylum seeker has been found dead in a Glasgow hotel after being moved there as part of the Home Office’s COVID-19 response.

The asylum seeker’s identity has now been confirmed as Adnan Olbeh, a thirty-year-old male, after he was  originally named as Adnan Olpi by friends. 

The man was moved from his asylum housing to the 81-bedroom McLays Hotel in Glasgow last month alongside a number of other asylum seekers, some who were relocated from other parts of the UK. 

Emergency services were called to the hotel shortly after 1pm last Tuesday following his discovery, but were unable to revive him. Police Scotland are currently treating the death as ‘unexplained’.

A friend of Mr Olbeh’s was living in the hotel with him, and told The Independent that he was suffering from serious mental health problems that rapidly deteriorated when he was moved to the facility. The two men had become friends around five months earlier, after meeting at a night shelter that they were both staying at. 

Police Scotland are currently treating the death as ‘unexplained’.

During their stay at the shelter, Mr Olbeh spoke to the friend about the difficulties he faced in dealing with the sexual abuse and torture he experienced whilst travelling through Libya in pursuit of asylum in Europe.  

glasgow asylum seeker
Glasgow is home to a considerable number of asylum seekers. [Image: The Independent]

In addition to suffering from serious mental health problems- including suicidal thoughts- the man developed a drug problem during his time in the UK asylum system. Although he made several attempts to access help from both the Home Office and Mears, the asylum housing provider, he was left to face his problems alone. 

Despite initial claims on social media that the man died after taking his own life, it is still not known whether or not the death was intentional. 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Home Office has instructed Mears to move hundreds of asylum seekers from shared asylum accommodation to hotels so that they have the ability to self-isolate and adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

However, this process has been widely criticised by campaigners, who have highlighted the strict conditions imposed on those who have been relocated. With the hotels reportedly providing three meals a day, basic toiletries and laundry facilities, asylum seekers have been stripped of their statutory financial support, which stands at £37.75 per week for those with a pending claim. 

Despite initial claims on social media that the man died after taking his own life, it is still not known whether or not the death was intentional.

The lack of independence and the inability to do basic tasks such as cook had a hugely deleterious effect on Mr Olbeh’s mental health. In the words of his friend, being relocated to the hotel made his condition ‘much, much worse’:

“He told Mears and the Home Office, but nothing happened. They left 90 people in one hotel without support. You have to eat whatever they give you. They stopped our money. Since we came here, his condition got much, much worse. It’s been very tough. He was waiting for a final decision on his claim, but the Home Office is pausing everything and no one will explain what will happen.”

“I feel so sad that this happened to him. He was 30 years old, he had dreams. We were talking, saying after this we will have work, he will speak English, life will be easier. I think he still had the ability to heal himself, but being in this situation put extra pressure on him.”

hotel glasgow
A number of asylum seekers have been moved to McLays guest house in Glasgow as part of the COVID-19 response [Image: Booking.com]

No Evictions Glasgow, a group who campaign against the ill-treatment of asylum seekers at the hands of housing providers, organised an online vigil for Mr Olbeh on Sunday evening. They had this to say:

“We are deeply saddened and utterly outraged by the lack of humanity, dignity, or consideration shown to asylum seekers by Mears, the Home Office, and the UK government. They have failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect.”

As well as expressing sadness at the loss of life, a Home Office spokesperson stated that they have put in ‘several measures’ to support asylum seekers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Written by
Cameron Boyle