UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has said the UK intends to temporarily house asylum seekers on abandoned military bases or even on ships to cut costs. For their part, charities and humanitarian organizations oppose the plan, deeming these places of residence “completely inappropriate and isolated” and calling for refugees to be treated with “dignity.” . Jenrick said a separate site on private land in East Sussex in the southeast of the country would be used.
He explained that the government is also exploring “the possibility of accommodating migrants on ships” such as ferries as it seeks to cut the £2.3bn ($2.8bn) annual hotel bill.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made curbing illegal Channel crossings one of his priorities. He explained that the possibility of staying in hotels is usually a factor that attracts immigrants who secretly cross the English Channel.
“These hotels are taking valuable assets from the public and putting pressure on local public services,” he said, adding: “We must not put the welfare of stowaways ahead of the welfare of the British people.”
However, charities oppose the British government’s plan, saying the housing it intends to prepare is “completely inappropriate” and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called London’s proposal “an admission of defeat”.
The Conservative government appears to be in legal trouble over the use of airports by local councils run by the Conservative Party. The Refugee Council said it was “deeply concerned” by the government’s plans, calling them “completely inappropriate”.
Steve Valdez-Simmonds, director of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Program at Amnesty International UK, urged refugees “to be treated with dignity and not kept in boats or other totally inappropriate and secluded accommodations”.