Plan to house more migrants in barracks ‘a recipe for disaster,’ warn charities

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Charities have criticized alleged plans for more military barracks for asylum seekers, warning that the “brutal” policy would be a “recipe for disaster”.

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A government task force has been set up to look at various options as thousands risk their lives to cross the English Channel in small boats to the UK.

Whitehall officials will consider the use of barracks, the possibility of cutting benefits, whether withdrawal agreements can be strengthened, and “offshoring” to third countries when processing claims, according to reports.


The charities accused the government of a “culture-war” and called on ministers to focus on establishing safer routes for migrants seeking asylum.

Detention Action director Bella Sanke said: “Sending refugees to offshore detention centers or dilapidated ex-barracks will not deter desperate people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

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There are growing concerns about housing at Napier Barracks in Kentucky

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There are growing concerns about housing at Napier Barracks in Kentucky

“If the government wants to prevent dangerous boat crossings, negative headlines and voter anxiety, it will allow a safer corridor from France to the UK for the relatively small number of people who want to come to the UK to claim asylum.

“Given the rise in dangerous crossings, the culture-warning strategy of the issue makes sense that no one is satisfied with”.

Napier Barracks in Kent is currently used for asylum seekers, but has been surrounded by allegations of poor conditions in communal dormitories, with inspectors describing an isolation block as “unsuitable for housing”.

The camp also came under fire in August, following an outbreak of dozens of asylum seekers self-isolating. In January, a major COVID outbreak in the camp saw nearly 200 people infected, causing all residents to be gradually evacuated by early April. It was reopened a few days later.

The Home Office has previously claimed it was a “disgrace” to suggest the site was not “enough” for asylum seekers.

Use of the site is scheduled to continue through the end of 2025. According to the PA news agency, about 277 people are currently living in the barracks.

Claire Moseley, founder of expatriate charity Care4Calais, said: “Large housing sites prevent asylum seekers from integrating into communities and easily accessing services such as medical aid, charities, churches and other facilities that might be readily available in a city. Huh.

“For example a large site like Napier can put undue pressure on a small local community. The growing isolation has an impact on the health and mental health of those fleeing war, torture and persecution.”

She said the focus on cost-saving housing was “disappointing” and added that the “better answer” would be efficient and accurate processing of asylum claims.

“Forcing more people to live in army barracks is another cruel proposition that distracts from the real problems”, said Steve Valdez-Symonds, director of refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International UK.

“The government should focus on ensuring that those fleeing persecution are recognized as refugees at the earliest and given the asylum they deserve,” he said.

“They should also end their foolish policy of delaying people’s asylum claims in the vain hope that another country might be persuaded to take responsibility for the person seeking asylum.

“Instead, ministers are devising more ways to demean or mistreat asylum-seekers—a recipe for further disaster.”

Granthshala The Home Office has been contacted for comment.


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