Asylum-Seekers Board UK’s Controversial ‘Deathtrap’ Housing Barge

asylum seekers board uk’s controversial ‘deathtrap’ housing barge

asylum seekers board uk’s controversial ‘deathtrap’ housing barge

As public health experts cautioned of the potential risk of infection in living conditions that campaigners branded as inhumane, the first asylum seekers boarded a contentious barge moored in southern England.

On the Bibby Stockholm, a vessel docked in Portland, southwest England’s Dorset coast, fifteen migrants stepped aboard.

Cheryl Avery, director for asylum accommodation at the UK Home Office, noted that there have been legal challenges to the plan but added that housing is offered to people on a no-choice basis.

The UK government’s plans to house 500 single adult men on the ship, which were revealed in April, sparked political outrage in Britain, where the Home Office has stepped up its hostility towards refugees to lessen the number of small boat crossings in the wake of the European refugee crisis.

Although there have been some difficulties, this is all a part of a structured process that is still in place to bring a cohort of up to 500 people on board. Avery told reporters on Monday that while there are some difficulties, including a few minor legal issues, which I can’t go into detail about, accommodations are made available to people without their consent.

The Bibby Stockholm has raised safety concerns from several groups. The UK’s Fire Brigades Union (FBU) referred to it as a “death trap” on Wednesday. Additionally, Jenny Harries, the CEO of the UK Health Security Agency, issued a warning that confined areas with constrained doorways and corridors were more likely to be the source of respiratory infections.

She said on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” show that poor ventilation and confined spaces put people at a higher risk of developing respiratory infections, which is something we have all learned from the pandemic.

We are aware that the accommodation complies with marine standards, which is what has been agreed is appropriate for that specific accommodation. The agency will visit the barge to evaluate the “infection prevention control” once migrants are on board, Harries said.

Ben Selby, assistant general secretary of the FBU, claimed last week that the barge had been “retrofitted” for 222 people rather than the 500 that the government wants to take in.

How would firefighters even get to the source of the fire and perform the necessary rescues if they had to squeeze through those cramped passageways to get to where people were trying to flee in the event of a fire? Selby informed the news source.

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More people were anticipated, but 20 transfers were halted after legal counsel got involved, according to the refugee aid organization Care4Calais.

The Conservative government has implemented several policies, including the use of the Bibby Stockholm, to reduce the cost of housing migrants in hotels and reduce the backlog of unresolved asylum claims.

According to UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, the UK government spends £6 million (nearly $7.6 million) each day to house migrants in hotels.

In response to the FBU’s statement from the previous week, Dowden stated that the government would take those concerns into account, and that is exactly what we are doing.

“Floating jail”

This year, as a result of war, global inequality, and the climate crisis, an increasing number of people have taken a chance on the perilous crossing between Britain and France.

According to UK government data, 45,755 individuals crossed in small boats in 2022, placing a strain on an immigration system that detractors claim is inefficient and underfunded.

In the first half of 2023, 11,500 people were observed traveling across the Channel in small boats. The majority of journeys take place in the second half of the year, even though the figure represents a 10% decline from the same period in 2022.

The UK government pushed through the controversial Illegal Migration Bill last month, giving it the authority to detain and expulse undocumented immigrants from the nation.

The legislation was denounced by the UN Agency for Refugees and called an “asylum ban,” in violation of the UK’s obligations under international law.

According to Care4Calais CEO Steve Smith, the decision to house refugees on the Bibby Stockholm is “causing a huge amount of anxiety.”

The torture survivors, people with disabilities, and those who have suffered trauma at sea are just a few of the groups we are helping. It is unacceptable to house any human being in a “floating prison” like the Bibby Stockholm. It is utterly inhumane to treat these people in this manner. He stated in a statement on Monday that it is extremely stressful.

This is yet another illustration of a hasty, irrational response to the government’s backlog of asylum requests. We wouldn’t be witnessing last-minute, panicked action to address the serious fire safety concerns that arise when attempting to cram over 500 people into a boat designed for just 220 if it had been properly planned.

About WR News Writer

WR News Writer is an engineer turned professionally trained writer who has a strong voice in her writing. She speaks on issues of migrant workers, human rights, and more.

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