The Home Office is moving asylum seekers back into Napier Barracks in Kent. This is despite a number of legal challenges and damning reports on the accommodation’s suitability to hold refugees long term.
All refugees had been moved out of the site and campaigners hoped the doors would be shut for good.
But now those who have recently arrived in Britain or are being kept in hotels have received a letter from the Home Office telling them they’d be moved by last Friday.
The letter said, “It is anticipated you will reside at Napier for between 60 and 90 days.” Hundreds could be housed on the site.
Around half of the 400 latest residents contracted coronavirus due to conditions. A similar style camp in Penally, west Wales, was closed down last month after an inspection.
One refugee who was forced into Napier and contracted the virus told Socialist Worker the Home Office is trying to show “they don’t want asylum seekers here”.
“It’s clear that putting asylum seekers there is a political decision. They are aware of what they’re doing,” he said.
He added that it’s “always easier to blame foreigners” when things go wrong.
“In Napier we complained to the camp manager, but he said we didn’t wear masks or socially distance. It’s always easier to put blame on us, rather than criticise the system that put 28 people in one room.”
The refugee added that the government has “spent too much time and money spreading misinformation in society”.
“They always say that we are invaders, illegal, criminals and rapists,” he said. “But it’s not the case.
“Put yourself in the shoes of people who are seeking asylum. Why would someone choose to leave their own country, friends and family?
“People are fleeing persecution. It’s not possible for them to collect a passport or go to an embassy.”
The news of new arrivals at Napier Barracks comes after home secretary Priti Patel announced there would be an overhaul of Britain’s asylum system.
This will see refugees who travel through “illegal” ways immediately deported.
The refugee added, “Seeking asylum is not a privilege. Even if the army camps are going to be closed the asylum system is broken.
“We need a sympathetic home office that sees us as humans, not invaders.”
After a fire broke out in Napier in January following a protest, Patel criticised refugees for “wasting taxpayers’ money”.
“If they are worried about taxpayers’ money then give asylum seekers the right to work,” the refugee argued. “Then we can pay our own taxes.
“I read that prince Philip was a refugee. So it’s a class problem.
“He was from the top so he was welcome here.”