Thousands call for refugee camps at military barracks to be shut down


Thousands of people are calling for controversial military barracks where refugees are being housed to be shut down.

A petition to close camps in Kent and Wales has racked up more than 7,500 signatures in just a few hours after being launched on Friday morning. The petition states:

Since September last year, the government has been using decommissioned army barracks in Wales and Kent to house asylum seekers.

People are sleeping in dormitory style blocks with bunk beds and are unable to socially distance or properly self-isolate. They do not have access to adequate healthcare.

Trapped in the camps, the mental health of residents is deteriorating too and there have been a number of suicide attempts.

We wrote to the government, with the British Medical Association, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Faculty of Public Health and others to warn them about the dire health risks of housing these very vulnerable people in the camps. They rejected our concerns.

Now there’s been a Covid outbreak in one of the barracks and it can only be a matter of time before infection is rife in both centres.

This cannot continue.

Charities have repeatedly raised concerns about conditions inside Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, and Penally Barracks in Pembrokeshire since they were commandeered by the Home Office last year.

In recent days, a coronavirus outbreak has hit the Kent site, where hundreds of people are living behind the barbed wire-topped fences.

Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent
There has been a a coronavirus outbreak at Napier Barracks (Gareth Fuller/PA)

There have been reports of suicide attempts in the Army barracks and many residents went on hunger strike in protest at the conditions, which reportedly include 34 people sharing one shower.

A petition launched by charity Freedom From Torture to empty the barracks and close them down on Friday morning has already racked up thousands of signatures.

By around 11.30am, more than 7,500 signatures had been gathered, just hours after the petition went live.

The petition can be accessed here: https://action.freedomfromtorture.org/close-the-barracks-1





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