On Friday 9th April, barely one week after the final resident of the 400 held since September in Napier Barracks was moved out of the barracks, the Home Office brought into the camp the first of a new cohort of people seeking asylum, taking them from the rooms they had been living in since arriving in the country. The intention is clearly to fill the camp again, and the new residents have been informed that they will be kept there for several months. Here is our Statement condemning this action by the Home Office.
Statement on Home Office Resumption of Napier Barracks Accommodation for People seeking Asylum
Hastings Community of Sanctuary is appalled that anyone seeking sanctuary in the UK is housed in such inadequate, dangerous, and inappropriate accommodation as Napier Barracks in Folkestone. We are horrified that the Home Office is now rounding up a huge new cohort of people and once again forcing them into these very same barracks that have been so widely condemned after the massive public exposure of their inhumanity and danger to health.
There is documented evidence that people fleeing persecution have been profoundly traumatised by being held there, so much so that there have been several suicide attempts. The inspection report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons found that about a third of respondents at Napier said they had felt suicidal, with people at high risk of self-harm put in a dilapidated “isolation block” considered “unfit for habitation”. Photos accompanying the report show a tiny room with dirty walls, peeling white paint, and what looks like mould growing.
The barracks were deemed to be entirely unfit to house the British army in 2014.Yet the Home Office persists on treating people seeking asylum as second-class citizens. The former residents of Napier Barracks were constantly denied even the most basic human rights, with limited or no access to medical care, privacy, decent nutrition, and legal representation. It seems that the Home Office is deliberately trying to dehumanise those people who are seeking sanctuary. Hastings Community of Sanctuary has exposed these wrongs by calling meetings, starting petitions, lobbying MPs and publishing letters and articles in local and mainstream media. And we condemn the profiteering company Clearsprings for implementing this inhumane Home Office policy.
We stand in solidarity with all campaigning organisations and charities opposing the use of Napier Barracks, including Care4Calais, Freedom from Torture, Kent Refugee Action Network, Humans for Rights Network, Choose Love and Asylum Matters. By joining together, we will expose the cruelty of the Home Office and the Government’s treatment of vulnerable people and succeed in getting this stopped.