JESUIT Refugee Service UK (JRS UK) released the following statement on 7 August, in response to the news that asylum seekers had been moved on to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland harbour, Dorset.
JRS UK are outraged to learn that people seeking asylum have now been moved onto the Bibby Stockholm barge. As it will now operate, the barge is quasi-detention. It is wholly inappropriate as accommodation for those seeking sanctuary. It represents a move to cut those seeking asylum off from our communities, and to dehumanise them.
Those forced to live on the barge will be subjected to overcrowding and, at best, face severe restrictions in movement. Large-scale, detention-like sites like this expose people who have fled danger to severe re-trauma; cause near universal, chronic sleep deprivation; and rapidly lead to deterioration in the mental health. At JRS UK, we know this only too well from our experience of accompanying people placed at Napier barracks.
It is horrifying to see the government not only doubling-down on its plan to roll-out quasi-detention, but even finding new ways to expand this plan and deepen its inhumanity. Furthermore, people have been moved to the barge despite serious concerns about fire safety and the risk of the outbreak of disease in such close quarters, showing disregard not only for their dignity and wellbeing, but even for their lives.
We call for those placed on the barge to be urgently provided with safe alternative accommodation in British communities; for plans to use the Bibby Stockholm as asylum accommodation to be halted; and for the government to abandon all plans to accommodate asylum seekers on barges and in other quasi-detention settings.
The Jesuit Refugee Service is an international Catholic organisation, at work in over 50 countries around the world with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
JRS UK has a special ministry to those who find themselves destitute as a consequence of UK government policies and those detained for the administration of immigration procedures.
* Source: Jesuit Refugee Service