Calls Grow for MPs to Take Action on the Forcing of Refugees into Unsafe Accommodation

Freedom From Torture, a charity which provides specialist psychological therapy to help asylum seekers and refugees who have survived torture, have called for the Home Secretary to take action on the forcing of refugees into unsafe old army barracks. 

The group’s #CLOSETHEBARRACKS campaign calls on Priti Patel to stop housing asylum seekers and refugees, some of who are torture survivors and victims of trafficking, in unsafe army barracks. In September 2020, the government started using decommissioned army barracks to house asylum seekers, most of whom have arrived in small boats across the channel. These sites are set to be used by the government for 12 months.

The government have made this decision despite Public Health England recently warning that the accommodation was not of a suitable standard. Refugee Action, a charity that works to support refugees who have settled in England, have reported that refugees have been “left to live in overcrowded rooms with just a dirty bedsheet to separate bunks, this accommodation is nowhere near Covid-secure.” Those at the barracks also have no access to a GP or proper healthcare provision.

Freedom From Torture’s work and campaigning has so far managed to:

  • Force the Home Office to order an independent review of the suitability of the barracks
  • Force the Home Office to cancel plans to house asylum seekers in portacabins next to Yarl’s Wood detention centre
  • Force Priti Patel to admit that housing vulnerable people in barracks may be in breach of their human rights and re-house more than 300 residents elsewhere

Whilst public pressure has meant some have been moved out of the barracks, many vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers remain in these unsafe conditions. To increase the pressure on the government, Freedom From Torture have called a #CLOSETHEBARRACKS day of action on the 19th of March.

On their website, the group have outlined their plan for the day of action:

On 19th March, people like you across the UK will hold virtual meetings with their local MPs as part of a big day of action to #CloseTheBarracks. We’ll tell them this isn’t acceptable and as their local voters, we have the power to hold them to account.

MPs have a duty to represent their constituents. They’ll also want your vote at the next election – so they have good reason to listen up.

Ruth Forecast is the Volunteer Coordinator for Malvern Welcomes, a group whose aims is to support refugees that have resettled in the town. She told Worcestershire Transformed:

“Refugees and asylum seekers who have been forced to flee from unimaginable horrors are not being shown the compassion they deserve. They are being re-traumatized by the shameful ill-treatment which they receive in the UK. It is important for general public in the UK to be made aware of this situation so that they can tell their MP that this is not acceptable.”

If you are interested in signing up to the day of action then go to their campaign page or send your MP an email via Refugee Action.

You can follow the campaign via Freedom From Torture’s social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Don’t forget you can support our work by pledging a monthly donation to our Patreon or by making a one-off donation to our Crowdfunder. You can find details here.

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