Fears rise over welfare of Grenfell Tower's 'undocumented residents'

Fears rise over welfare of Grenfell Tower's 'undocumented residents'
2 min read
20 June, 2017
Estimates of Grenfell Tower's missing and presumed deceased residents may be underestimated, as reports of missing illegal subtenants surface.
Police expect the Grenfell Tower death toll to rise as investigations continue [Getty]

Some survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire may be refraining from seeking state support due to being undocumented migrants or illegal subtenants, legal experts and NGOs have warned.

This may also mean that the death toll is higher than currently assumed, due to underreporting of illegal subtenants.

According to a local volunteer quoted by The Independent, multiple reports have been circulating about undocumented migrants who had "deliberately disappeared" after the fire.

"There must have been a bunch of people in that building who probably escaped on the night and probably ran away from the situation. There has been speak from other residents of a whole load of Filipinos living in there that no one has seen since it happened," the unnamed volunteer said.

A government source assured that police would not take action if undocumented residents of Grenfell Tower contact the hotline for survivors.

While concerns grow over the unknown number of undocumented migrants who lived in the housing block, displaced residents have also reported being pressured by the council to accept rehousing over 200 miles away from their former home.

Tottenham MP David Lammy reported on Tuesday hearing that residents are being threatened with being declared "intentionally homeless" if they refuse to accept the accommodation offered.

If marked as "intentionally homeless" by the council, residents are no longer eligible for help.

London-based charity The Radical Housing Network has called on the UK government to rehouse all residents locally, regardless of their residential or immigration status.

Police commander Stuart Cundy announced on Monday that 79 people are dead or missing and presumed dead following the devastating blaze last week.

Police had earlier put the toll at 58 presumed dead.

Only five people were formally identified by police so far, he said, after officers earlier warned that some may never be identified due to the condition of the remains.

Cundy warned that the current toll could change.

"I believe there may be people who were in Grenfell Tower that people may not know were missing and may not have realised they were in there on the night.

"Equally, there may be people who thankfully may have managed to escape the fire and for whatever reason have not let their family or friends or police know," he said.