In a bid to handle the escalating number of small boat crossings the Channel, the UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, has reportedly planned to house up to 2,000 asylum seekers in tents on disused military sites, avoiding the use of hotels. The move is expected to be implemented by the end of August.
According to Whitehall sources cited in the Telegraph, the home secretary has recently procured the marquees, anticipating an imminent surge of boats. However, the proposal has come under scrutiny as government sources reveal that a similar plan was rejected last year due to fears of legal challenges based on alleged inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.
Moreover, concerns have been raised about the safety and conditions at the planned tent sites.
Another controversial measure being taken by the government is the opening of the UK’s first floating barge for asylum seekers. The barge, named Bibby Stockholm, is set to host around 500 men at a time, as part of efforts to reduce the use of hotels for housing individuals awaiting asylum claim results. While the Home Office is set to send the first 50 people to the barge on Tuesday, safety concerns and local opposition have surfaced.
Refugee charities have expressed their apprehension about the government’s approach, arguing that housing vulnerable people on barges and former military bases is detrimental to their needs. Safety concerns have also been raised for the migrants residing in such facilities.
Despite these concerns and criticisms, the Home Office is determined to implement its plans. The barge, which faced a month’s delay for repairs, has undergone statutory inspection and refurbishment to meet all necessary regulations before the arrival of the first asylum seekers.
As the situation unfolds, rights groups continue to advocate for more compassionate and comprehensive solutions that prioritise the well-being and safety of asylum seekers, highlighting the need for a more humane approach to the refugee crisis.
The number of pending UK asylum seeker cases has reached a record high, with the latest data from the Home Office indicating that over 166,000 people were still waiting for a decision on their applications at the end of last year.