Britain has announced its plan to house approximately 500 asylum seekers on a barge, as the government seeks cost-cutting measures and deterrents for arrivals crossing the Channel.
Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to stop small boats used by tens of thousands of migrants each year to make the treacherous trip.
He said the barge would save money and reduce pressure on hotels. The Conservative government has proposed to outlaw asylum claims by all illegal arrivals and transfer them to “safe” third countries like Rwanda.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said, “We have to use alternative accommodation options, as our European neighbours are doing – including the use of barges and ferries to save the British taxpayer money and to prevent the UK from becoming a magnet for asylum shoppers in Europe.
” However, charity group Refugee Council said the barge would be “completely inadequate” for “vulnerable people who have come to our country in search of safety, having fled beatings and death threats in countries such as Afghanistan and Iran”.
The barge will be berthed in Portland Port, the first of its kind in the UK, and will accommodate single men while their asylum claims are processed, with the first residents due in the “coming months”.
Sunak said, “We can’t have a situation (where) we are collectively spending £6 million a day on hotels for illegal asylum seekers.
” The “Bibby Stockholm”, to be operational for at least 18 months, will provide basic accommodation and healthcare, catering facilities, and round-the-clock security, and was previously used by the Netherlands and Germany to house asylum seekers.
Residents whose claims are refused and have exhausted their appeal rights will be removed from the country, said the government.
Almost 88,000 people have made the crossing of one of the world’s busiest waterways since 2018, leading the UK’s asylum system to become overloaded.