Close the Camps! Our demand for humane housing

18 May 2021
Maymuna Osman

Priti Patel’s New Plan for Immigration wants to expand enforcement, detention and the criminalisation of migrants, refugees and people claiming asylum. We must speak out now for our communities and call for humane and safe housing. 

Napier Barracks is unfit for purpose

Dirty, vermin infested rooms.

Disgusting food. No nappies or sterilising equipment for baby bottles.

No control. No space. No dignity. 

This is the reality for people seeking asylum, including children and babies, forced to live in contingency asylum accommodation.

‘’Detention hotels’’ and military barracks have exacerbated the trauma and deteriorated mental and physical health for the adults and children trapped inside throughout this pandemic:

“The hotel treated people like they were not human…Food was disgusting, and often expired. People were starving as a result. Staff were shouting at us, they said we should be grateful for whatever we were given. ” S

‘’My baby is allergic to the brand of formula that is used at the hotel. I asked for an alternative but none has been provided and I was told that there was nothing that could be done. There are also problems with our asylum support payments.’’ A.&Z., couple with 6 months old baby

‘’The security guards once physically restrained me from leaving the hotel because I did not understand that I needed to sign out or why.’’ A

Earlier this year we spoke out! 

READ OUR EVIDENCE SUBMITTED TO THE INDEPENDENT CHIEF INSPECTOR FOR  BORDERS AND IMMIGRATION  

Our evidence was written with testimonials from our members, Mutual Aid RBKC and Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea.

Even the then Independent Chief Inspector for Immigration and Borders, David Bolt,  agreed that Military Barracks were unfit for purpose. Penally Barracks in Wales has since closed, however Napier Barracks, Kent remains open and many remain stuck in degrading conditions in hotels.

ACTION

On May 22nd a coalition to #ClosetheCamps will take direct action outside Napier Barracks demanding its closure.

We stand in solidarity with all those forced to live in degrading conditions in Barracks and Hotels, and demand:

1. The immediate closure of all barracks

Detaining asylum seekers into what is effectively a prison is inhumane and a denial of their basic, fundamental human rights. 

2. Hygienic, safe living conditions for people to be treated with dignity 

All asylum accommodation currently being used must be assessed by Public Health England, local authorities, charities and other relevant bodies to make sure it is safe, humane and allows people to live in dignity with access to necessary food, hygiene, wifi and provision for communication. Accommodation must be linked with relevant community and specialist services to support people claiming asylum.

3. The immediate provision of healthy food that meets basic calorie and nutritional requirements.

This includes access to sterilising, storage and support for parents and their babies. 

4. An end to the forcible detention and monitoring of movement.

Placing restrictions on their movement compounded with a culture of disbelief from hotel/ barrack staff is inhumane and damaging. 

5. An end to profit making in the asylum system

Companies like Clearsprings, G4S, Serco are rubbing their hands with glee, creaming off injustice, misery and turning into a profit making exercise. Clearsprings alone made £242m from  government grants, and its director Graham King is believed to pay himself £3.6 million. We say no to profit. Yes to accountability. 

6. A humane approach 

A system that allows people to live comfortably, independently, with dignity and in the home and community of their choice — with respect to agency and voice. 

7. A community welcome

Engaging charities, communities, local authorities and specialist organisations in providing safe, comfortable accommodation in the community, and with adequate health facilities, mental health support and expertise in trauma, human trafficking and other areas of relevant support. 

8. An Immigration system based on justice, dignity and welcome

Priti Patel’s New Plan for Immigration is nothing but Hostile Environment 2.0: more enforcement, detention and criminalisation. We demand a humane immigration system based on justice, dignity and welcome. 

 For more info on Saturday’s Close the Camps action outside Napier Barracks, click here 

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 NOW IS THE TIME TO ORGANISE FOR DIGNITY AND JUSTICE 

Migrants Organise is a platform where migrants, refugees connect, build common ground, organise for dignity and justice for all.

We are building a movement for migrant justice, please sign and support our call for fair, humane immigration reform.

 

Below, we have listed organisations from our network who are working to demand better housing for migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum: 

Close the Camps Coalition: A coalition of grass-roots groups organising against the Home Office housing of asylum seekers in Napier Barracks, an old army accommodation in Kent that has been declared unfit for purpose.

CARAG Housing Foundation and have raised funds to be able to provide secure housing for migrants without recourse to public funds.

NACCOM have been campaigning to end No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) conditions and to ensure that the temporary pause to asylum evictions during the pandemic is extended.

SYMAAG have been working tirelessly to campaign against the privatisation of asylum accommodation for a number of years. During the pandemic, they set up a new line of defence to protect asylum seekers facing eviction.

Sisters United took direct action against the conditions facing women living in G4S accommodation, setting out their demands in a Housing Charter.

CRoP was formed by migrants living in barracks to campaign for the closure of the barracks, better living conditions and an end to hostile environment. They have successfully mobilised public support which resulted in the closure of Penally and continue to campaign for the closure of Napier Barracks.

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