Report condemns use of Napier Barracks in Folkestone as accommodation for asylum seekers

A multi-party group of parliamentarians accused the government of inflicting “profound evil” on those housed at the Napier barracks.

The former army accommodation in Folkestone is one of many sites used to house people seeking asylum in Britain who would otherwise be destitute.

Napier Barracks in Folkestone is used to house asylum seekers

During investigations detailed in a report released this week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Immigration Detention (APPG) found evidence of what it describes as “appalling treatment and conditions” at Napier Barracks, Penally Camp in Wales and Tinsley House Immigration Removal Center near Gatwick Airport.

The barracks – which is part of the larger Shorncliffe military camp and previously housed short-stay duty staff – has the capacity to hold 523 people, but the Home Office is declining to say how many are currently housed there .

Although the Home Office insists that individuals are not being held in Napier, the APPG says conditions there – including visible security measures, surveillance, lack of privacy and limited access to health care, legal advice and communication facilities – make it “quasi-detention”. ‘.

For survivors of torture, trafficking or other serious forms of violence, such conditions can make them relive past abuse and be very traumatic.

The report, produced by a multi-party panel of 10 MPs and peers, therefore recommends the closure of the Napier barracks as accommodation for asylum seekers “with immediate and permanent effect”.

Conditions inside Napier Barracks in Folkestone.  Photo: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration
Conditions inside Napier Barracks in Folkestone. Photo: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

Bridget Chapman, spokesperson for the Kent Refugee Action Network charity, welcomed the latest report and said he opposed the use of the fire station.

She said: “Many people placed in Napier will have been incarcerated and tortured in places like Libya, Iran and Eritrea.

“It is traumatic to place them in what is obviously a former military establishment, and in a prison-like setting. The report shows that the impact on the mental health of vulnerable people has been enormous and it is unforgivable that they were put somewhere that the Home Office knew would impact their well-being.

“I note that the Home Office still uses the line that the barracks were good enough for British soldiers. Let’s be absolutely clear, they weren’t good enough, which is why they were taken out of service there. is years old. “

In March, images released by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) showed living conditions described as “unsuitable” and “impoverished” in the barracks.

Local residents and community groups hosted a welcome event for asylum seekers in Napier.  Photo: Andrew Aitchison / In pictures via Getty Images
Local residents and community groups hosted a welcome event for asylum seekers in Napier. Photo: Andrew Aitchison / In pictures via Getty Images

A photograph of part of the facility – described as an isolation room – showed damaged bricks and peeling paint and was described as “unfit for habitation” by the ICIBI.

In August, Folkestone and Hythe District Council revealed the government was extending its use of Napier until September 2025.

The local authority has expressed disappointment with the decision, as has local MP Damian Collins.

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: “Military barracks sites were previously used to house military personnel. To suggest that they are not good enough for asylum seekers is an insult.

“Residents are not detained in Napier, they receive three meals a day and their basic needs are met.

Conditions inside the accommodation blocks at Napier Barracks.  Photo: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration
Conditions inside the accommodation blocks at Napier Barracks. Photo: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

“Our new Nationality and Borders Bill will create a fair but firm immigration system and fix our failing asylum system. This includes the use of hosting centers, which will build on existing capacities while ensuring individuals simple, safe and secure accommodation while their requests and returns are being processed. “

We have closed the possibility of commenting on this story due to the number of offensive and racist messages received on this topic.

We understand that this is a very controversial issue, but we need to make sure that our comments follow the house rules.


Source link

Comments are closed.