LONDON: Dozens of asylum seekers who have recently arrived in the UK via the English Channel have launched a protest against what they say are unsafe conditions at the former military camp where they are being kept.
Napier Barracks, an old British Army base in Kent, was repurposed as an asylum facility in September to hold the sudden influx of migrants. It is currently said to be housing some 400 migrants. The group includes many from the Middle East and North Africa.
“We live in the worst conditions. There have been suicide attempts and the authorities have done nothing. Why? We are victims, not criminals,” 21-year-old Ahmed from Sudan, who is taking part in the protest — which includes sleeping outside and refusing food — told The Independent newspaper. “We are here to request international protection. Where are the humanitarian organizations?”
A migrant who did not want to be named said: “Even in Africa and the Middle East, camps are not like this. The food is bad, we cannot get health care, it is cold.”
Jafar, a 38-year-old from Iran, said the organization of the camp is “dangerously wrong” and that COVID-19 rules are “impossible to follow.”
He added: “You cannot keep to rules of social distancing. We all eat in the same room and share the same bathrooms and toilets. The danger of the virus spreading in here is huge.”
Kent Police confirmed that it had responded to a protest at the barracks at around midday on Tuesday and that officers remain at the site.