Fury after Syrian asylum seeker found dead in Scottish hotel


CAMPAIGNERS have slammed the Government after a Syrian man was found dead in a Scottish hotel.

Named by friends as Adnan Olpi, the 30-year-old was amongst scores of asylum seekers placed in a private guest house by Home Office housing contractor Mears Group.

Emergency services were called to the 81-bedroom McLays Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday afternoon but were unable to save him.

Police Scotland said his death is being treated as unexplained, and friends told The National that he had sought support for mental health struggles and had developed drug problems while in the UK asylum system.

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However, despite some reports on social media that he had taken his own life, it is not known whether or not his death was intentional.

Friends living alongside Olpi at the city site were afraid to speak out on the record, for fear of harming their claims for sanctuary in the UK.

However, speaking on condition of anonymity, one fellow Syrian told how he had accompanied Olpi to appointments in which he had asked for mental health support. The friend said: “He had suicidal thoughts and told the Home Office that. I went to the hospital with him, he was seeking help. He tried many times. They would ask, ‘can you wait a few days?’”

However, it is claimed that the move into the hotel exacerbated Olpi’s distress due to the inability to carry out basic independent tasks, like cooking his own meals. The friend went on: “I’m in shock. It’s really tough for me because I was so close with him.

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“He was under more pressure. I wonder if there was any small thing I could have done to save him.

“He had a dream, he wanted his life to become better. He wanted to work and send money back to his family. He wanted to improve himself and he was learning the language. He wanted to get married and start a family.”

The No Evictions Network held an online vigil yesterday evening. A spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the situation, 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. This situation was entirely avoidable. Despite this, pleas for change made by both individuals and organisations have been ignored. We have lost a young life.”

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It is understood that around 500 asylum seekers in total are now being housed in Glasgow hotels, including some brought in from elsewhere in the UK. Mears Group claims it had to move people out of the short-term let accommodation used for new applicants but has been unable to find new provision due to coronavirus restrictions on the property market.

Advocacy groups have raised fears about welfare, safety and social distancing but Mears Group insists all movement is being undertaken in accordance with health authority guidance on social distancing.

Last night, a Mears Group spokesperson said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum seeker who had been in Mears supported accommodation. Mears are working with the Home Office to contact the asylum seeker’s family before disclosing more information.”

Neither the Home Office nor McLays Hotel responded to The National’s requests for comment.

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