Concerns about the use of army barracks

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation:

Updated 23 January 2021: Guardian: UK asylum seekers told claims at risk if they ‘misbehave’

Call for Home Office to act after private contractors tell people their applications will be jeopardised for speaking out, going on hunger strikes or complaining about food

People held at temporary Home Office refugee camps are being threatened that their asylum claims will be harmed if they “misbehave”, according to testimony from site residents.

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ICIBI An inspection of the Home Office’s use of sanctions and penalties

2021 Jan 14: Publishing the report, David Bolt said: For many this will seem to be a case of too little, and much too late. From ICIBI’s perspective, in 2016, and again in 2018 and 2019, a series of inspection reports recommended that the Home Office should monitor and evaluate the impact of the hostile/compliant environment. These recommendations were only “partially accepted” and never implemented. Had they been, some of the harms suffered by the Windrush generation and others may have been avoided.

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‘We are victims, not criminals’: Asylum seekers protest conditions in military camp

12 January 2021: Independent: Home Office urged to close Napier Barracks in Kent amid warnings of unsafe and overcrowded conditions 

Dozens of asylum seekers have mounted a protest over the conditions they are being held in at a former military camp in Kent, warning that being there is putting them at risk.

More than a dozen police officers responded to the peaceful protest outside Napier Barracks in Folkestone on Tuesday afternoon. Video footage shows officers lined up in front of the camp’s residents as they hold up banners warning of unsafe conditions in the camp.

Last September, the former army base was turned into accommodation for asylum-seeking men and is currently said to be housing around 400 people.

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“No one should fear accessing medical advice from our superb NHS due to an immigration reason.”

Open Letter to Public Health England and other agencies:

“As PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants) have most recently expressed:

“Any vaccination campaign, to be effective, has to cover virtually everyone. Including #undocumented people is not only humane, it’s also public health common sense. We’re all in this together, and only together can we win this battle.”

Here is our letter:

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Napier camp, Folkestone is unsafe

People seeking asylum in Folkestone are protesting. They want their voices to be heard.

A resident at Napier Barracks writes: ” I can’t speak English , but I can write for you and I send good pictures for you , you can read the posters on my pic we are human. Everyone here has a mental problem because nothing is human. No body is responsible for how long we have to be here. Neither in terms of health nor food and any other help many people here do not have access to a doctor,
Many do not have warm clothes.”

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Appalling conditions in barracks housing people seeking asylum

Status Now 4 All has a continuing deep concern about the impact on the physical and psychological well-being of people seeking asylum of being accommodated in ‘contingency units’ by the companies acting on behalf of the Home Office. The news items below amplify the voice of those with this experience.

We ask you to write to your MP calling for the use of barracks to be stopped, and for the Home Office to appropriately exercise its duty of care … and make a big noise about this desperate situation: Call for Status Now for All

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High Court finally calls time on asylum accommodation delays

15 December 2020: Freemovement

Everyone who works with asylum seekers knows that the Home Office system for providing accommodation is not fit for purpose. In R (DMA and Others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWHC 3416 (Admin) the High Court has finally and emphatically recognised this. The judgment will surely have significant ramifications for how the Home Secretary discharges her duty to accommodate destitute asylum seekers.

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Leicester – immigration rules – rough sleepers

11 December 2020 Leicester City Mayor@CityMayorLeic· #Leicester will not collaborate with the Government’s change to immigration rules for rough sleepers. It is unfair, discriminatory and morally wrong to deport someone simply falling on hard times and losing their home.

Danny Myers@dannytmyers·Joining @SadiqKhan and other city leaders, we in #Leicester are kicking back against this cruel policy targeting rough sleepers. @CityMayorLeic & @Leicester_News will not betray our city’s humanity and compassion.

We Belong: Mental Health check

The young migrant folk at We Belong recently published this report that looks at mental health and the precariousness of growing up on LLR:

“We Belong’s Mental Health Check is not an easy read – but it is an essential one. It is a clarion call for change. Our report catalogues the terrible toll that the immigration system in general – and the 10-year Limited Leave to Remain route in particular – is taking on young people’s mental and physical health.

Our country cannot afford to go on like this: too many young lives are being damaged and distorted; too much harm is being inflicted; too much ambition and talent is being hobbled – or even extinguished.

Here, we repeat the call of our 2019 report, ‘Normality is a Luxury: How Limited Leave to Remain is blighting young lives’, for a shorter, more affordable and humane path to citizenship for those of us who are proud to call the UK our home (see page 30-31)”

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Alarming Rise in Asylum Backlog Despite Fall in Applications

30 November 2020: The backlog of asylum cases has reached alarming new heights, with over 46,000 people now waiting more than six months for an initial decision on their asylum application. The figures as of 30 September 2020, which were released today, show a 19% increase from three months earlier and a 76% rise since September 2019. he Home Office has used the backlog as a pretext to accommodate asylum seekers in converted military barracks in Wales and Kent. But the backlog is not an unforeseeable pandemic-induced crisis: it had been rising for several years, at a faster rate than the increase in asylum applications over the same period. Applications did rise by around a third between 2017 and 2019, but the backlog doubled.

The pandemic has made a bad situation worse.

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Home Office accused of cover-up at camp for asylum seekers

Updated with report in the Guardian 26 November 2020: Medical staff urge Priti Patel to close barracks housing asylum seekers

Exclusive: Letter to home secretary raises concerns about sites holding 600 men in Kent and Pembrokeshire

Healthcare professionals have called for former army barracks being used to house asylum seekers to be closed over concerns about the residents’ wellbeing.

Medical staff have written to the home secretary, Priti Patel, with a damning assessment, to raise concerns about the sites at Napier barracks in Kent and Penally barracks in Pembrokeshire, which between them are holding more than 600 men.

The group, represented by Doctors of the World, a human rights organisation, believe the sites are unsuitable due to the lack of access to adequate and appropriate healthcare services and risks from a lack of compliance with Covid-19 regulations.

They also fear the military environment will trigger further trauma for the men, many of whom will have fled conflict, militia and may have been detained in similar environments in their home countries. [Read more:

23 November 2020: Guardian: Home Office accused of cover-up at camp for asylum seekers

Official Secrets Act used to prevent volunteers discussing ‘disturbing’ conditions at ex-barracks

Volunteers have been asked to sign confidentiality agreements underpinned by the Official Secrets Act before entering an army barracks used to house asylum seekers, as details emerge of the “disturbing” conditions on the site.

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Home Office failed to comply with equality law when implementing ‘hostile environment’ measures

and … Bella Sankey@BellaSankey· Director of @DetentionAction: And it’s officially confirmed. The @ukhomeoffice are planning a pre-Christmas mass deportation of Black British residents to Jamaica on 2nd December. Despite #COVID19 risks they think that they have capacity to deport 50 people on the flight. #Jamaica50@DetentionAction

Note – you can sign this petition: Urgent action needed: Home Office plan pre Christmas mass deportation to Jamaica during lockdown

EHCR: Home Office failed to comply with equality law when implementing ‘hostile environment’ measures Published: 25 Nov 2020

We assessed how and whether the Home Office complied with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) when developing, implementing and monitoring the hostile environment policy agenda, particularly in considering its impact on Black members of the Windrush generation.

The assessment has found that negative consequences were repeatedly ignored, dismissed, or their severity disregarded at crucial points of policy development. There was limited engagement with representatives of the Windrush generation, even as the severe effects of hostile environment policies began to emerge.

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