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: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/nov/26/medical-staff-urge-priti-patel-to-close-barracks-housing-asylum-seekers

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.

The Home Office has been accused of attempting to cover up what is happening at Napier barracks near Folkestone, Kent, where there have been hunger strikes, suicide attempts, unrest and regular medical emergencies among residents.

Volunteers providing warm clothing, amenities, company and counselling to the 400 men housed on the site have been confronted with the confidentiality form by the private firm running the repurposed site on behalf of the Home Office. [Read more]

The Home Office is using ‘contingency sites’ to house people seeking asylum because there is a long-term build up of people waiting for decisions that have not yet been processed. StatusNow4All would clear this backlog simply and offers an opportunity for UK to respect people’s human rights, dignity, and health and safety, especially at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic