Syrian refugee: Wightman raises concerns over accommodation

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman is raising fresh concerns about the case of Shahbaz Ali, a Syrian refugee who was stabbed in an alleged racist attack in Edinburgh earlier this month.

Mr Ali has internal bleeding after collapsing while being discharged from hospital and it has now emerged that the City of Edinburgh Council has not allowed Mr Ali’s father to sign a lease on behalf of his son, nor is the Council prepared to visit Mr Ali in hospital to obtain a signature.

The property he was given is in a poor state – dirty and with only one bed and nothing else for furniture. He was promised a clean and furnished property. Mr Ali’s father wanted access to the property to tidy and furnish it, so it is a welcoming and safe environment for his son to recover in.

Andy Wightman MSP said:

“It is absolutely appalling what this young man and his family have gone through in the last week.

“At last Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions, the First Minister responded to my question about the attack on Mr Ali by saying that, ‘We want Scotland to be—and to be seen to be—a refuge from war and persecution… The Scottish Government will do what we can, with the local authority in Edinburgh and other groups, to provide as much reassurance and support as possible.’ Clearly that means providing appropriate accommodation.

“However, the difficulties faced by Mr Ali’s father yesterday suggest that the City of Edinburgh Council is failing in its duty to house vulnerable refugees. Why did Mr Ali’s father face so many unnecessary barriers when all he wanted to do was to create a safe and welcoming environment for his son to recover from this most malicious of criminal acts?

“The current systems in place to house vulnerable people, including refugees, in Edinburgh need to be rapidly re-assessed. I am shocked by reports of the treatment Mr Ali’s family received yesterday and I urge those responsible to act swiftly to uphold Mr Ali’s human rights in this situation.”