UK Home Office faces investigation into barracks housing refugees

UK Home Office faces investigation into barracks housing refugees
Asylum seekers allegedly face issues with isolation, difficulty accessing legal and medical support, and almost no 'visible security measures'.
2 min read
Napier houses about 400 people who have allegedly arrived in the UK by boat recently.[Getty]

Members of a UK parliamentary group will investigate the government's use of military barracks to accommodate refugees which have been described by campaigners as "quasi-detention" sites.

The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on immigration detention said it will publish the full results of this investigation before the parliament's summer recess, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Peers and MPs have already spoken out against conditions at the Napier Barracks in Folkestone where some refugees are homes.

The report alleges that asylum seekers face issues with isolation, difficulty accessing legal and medical support, and almost no "visible security measures".

There are also reports of a lack of privacy, curfews, and a "restriction of movement" on residents.

"The recent report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) on this type of contingency accommodation underlined serious deficiencies in provision," said Alison Thewliss MP, the chair of the APPG.

"Indeed, the group has written on a number of occasions to ministers regarding concerns such as ineffective safeguarding, unsanitary conditions, inadequate social distancing, and many other issues besides."

Thewliss said that responses from the Home Office regarding these issues have "fallen short", according to The Guardian.

"It remains a significant concern that people are being transferred to Napier barracks given the nature of the complaints that many have made about the conditions there," she said.

"Given the serious nature of the concerns raised, the group feels it is appropriate to undertake an inquiry to properly examine the conditions that people are being asked to endure."

A spokesperson for the Home Office denied claims regarding access to health services and the use of curfews, The Guardian said. 

The barracks have been under scrutiny after at least ten legal challenges were launched by asylum seekers recently transferred there, alleging overcrowding - compounded by the coronavirus pandemic - as well as an alleged cover-up by the Home Office.

Some 350 men went on hunger strike to protest the cramped conditions, which they say increases their chances of contracting Covid-19.

"The Home Office can quickly solve this crisis by processing asylum seekers' claims. They want to work, settle in this country and contribute to society. Processing their claims would give them the opportunity to rebuild their lives instead of keeping them in this cruel limbo, and remove the need for unsafe short-term asylum housing," Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said.

Since its opening in September 2020, Napier has housed around 400 people who have allegedly arrived to the UK via boats from across the Channel.

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