ECONOMY

Government urged to stop using Napier Barracks to house asylum seekers


T

he Government must stop housing asylum seekers in “profoundly inappropriate” military barracks, a group of MPs and peers has said.

The call comes after immigration minister Kevin Foster confirmed the Home Office’s plan to continue to use scandal-hit Napier Barracks in Kent beyond September when its initial one-year contract expires.

The measure was initially billed as a temporary solution for asylum accommodation during the pandemic.

MPs and peers have described using military barracks to house asylum seekers as ‘profoundly inappropriate’ (Gareth Fuller/PA) / PA Wire

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention, which has been carrying out an inquiry into the use of military barracks to house asylum seekers, published an interim report which it said highlighted the “alarming” conditions reported by those who have lived in the buildings near Folkestone, as well as concerns from the charity and other aid workers who support them.

The findings said witnesses reported “unsanitary, crowded, prison-like” conditions and raised a range of concerns about the welfare of those living there and the support available to them.

APPG chairman Alison Thewliss, the SNP MP for Glasgow Central, said: “This interim report confirms many of our worst fears about the UK Government’s use of former military barracks as asylum accommodation, and reaffirms that these types of settings are profoundly inappropriate for housing individuals, many of whom are vulnerable.”

Dating back more than 130 years, the ageing Napier Barracks has been dogged by allegations of poor conditions.

An inspection by two independent watchdogs described parts of the barracks as “filthy” and “decrepit”, highlighting “fundamental failures” in housing asylum seekers there.

Six of those previously housed there won a legal challenge against the Government as a High Court judge ruled their accommodation was inadequate.

The Home Office should listen seriously to the concerns of those in their care. They must stop people’s suffering, and end barracks accommodation immediately

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