UK sinks to 'new low' with floating asylum accommodation barge as Bibby Stockholm docks

UK sinks to 'new low' with floating asylum accommodation barge as Bibby Stockholm docks
Local officials and campaigners are united in their opposition to the Bibby Stockholm barge's 'unique approach to housing' new arrivals in cramped conditions that have been described as inhumane.
3 min read
20 July, 2023
Dorset residents say they were not listened to over the new barge's arrival [Getty]

A controversial mega-barge to house asylum seekers arriving in the UK docked in the south of England on Tuesday, just hours after the government passed the notorious Illegal Migration Bill to outlaw arrival to the UK on "illegal routes". 

The docking of Bibby Stockholm, which will house up to 500 single males in double rooms, has been met by anger from both local residents and human rights groups. 

The local council said it "recognises the contribution that refugees have made to our Dorset economy and society over the years - whilst we accept that the Bibby Stockholm Barge is inhumane and is entirely inappropriate".

"Dorset Council welcomes all refugees to be treated with dignity and respect," said the council. 

Each inmate of the new immigration detention barge will be afforded less living space than the average parking bay. 

The Bibby Marine website boasts that the barge has a "unique approach to accommodating" people who stay on board. 

The vessel has previously been used as short term accommodation for 250 workers on marine projects - but new arrivals may end up staying on the Bibby Stockholm indefinitely.

Local MP Chris Loder has argued that the accommodation is not fit for purpose.

"We’re talking about a barge that was designed and built for 250 people and we’re going to have more than double that on board," said Loder, the member for West Dorset.

"It should be properly risk assessed. I’ve not been given that assurance despite having asked. I’ve asked for that for quite a long time," he continued. 

The New Arab have approached Bibby Marine for comment.

While asylum seekers are awaiting the results of their claims in the UK they are left in limbo, unable to work and given a highly limited living allowance. 

Under the latest Illegal Migration Bill, those who arrive by crossing the channel in a boat will not even be allowed to make legitimate asylum claims. 

Arrivals by boat to the UK have risen sharply in 2023, prompting outcry from the right of British politics that immigration levels to the UK are unsustainable.

Most legal experts believe the bill to be in contravention of international law protecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. 

Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon said the barge would be "completely inadequate" to house "vulnerable people who have come to our country in search of safety, having fled beatings and death threats in countries such as Afghanistan and Iran".