In the United Kingdom, a “prison boat” to welcome migrants

Tuesday, the Bibby Stockholm arrived in the port of Portland, in the county of Dorset, in the south of the United Kingdom. This barge should be able to accommodate asylum seekers, who will wait while waiting for a residence permit to be granted. 93 meters long and equipped with 222 cabins, the barge will be able to accommodate up to 506 single men.

On this boat will be provided “basic and functional accommodation, and healthcare, catering facilities and 24/7 security will be in place on board, to minimize disruption to local communities,” the English government said in a statement. Press release.

A way to reduce government spending

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said of the statement that “the Home Secretary and I have made it clear that the use of expensive hotels to house those on unnecessary and dangerous journeys must end. We will not elevate the interests of illegal migrants above the British people for whom we are elected”. Indeed, to justify the use of this barge, the British government estimates that hotel accommodation for asylum seekers costs taxpayers 6 million pounds per day.

As reminded France News, this barge was already used in 2005 by the Netherlands for a similar purpose. Faced with this announcement, a number of associations and rights defending NGOs denounced the use Bibby Stockholm, calling it a “prison ship”. “About fifty asylum seekers” will be sent there next week, the Interior Ministry said.

A controversial new anti-immigration law

This announcement comes at the same time as the British Parliament passed a controversial law against illegal immigration, which drastically restricts the right to asylum, to the point of being, criticizes the UN, in contradiction with international law on refugees.

But the government has made the fight against illegal immigration a priority and has promised to “stop” the arrivals by the English Channel of migrants on board small boats, which have increased sharply in recent years despite the promises of the Brexit era.

Under the new law, migrants who have arrived in Britain illegally will no longer be able to seek asylum in the country. The government also wants migrants, after being detained, to be quickly deported, either to their country of origin or to a third country such as Rwanda, wherever they come from.

In 2022, more than 45,000 migrants crossed the Channel, especially from France, on board small boats, a record. They are more than 13,000 to have made the crossing since the beginning of the year. In the first quarter, it was mainly Afghans.

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