The asylum seekers finally stepped foot on Britain’s first migrant barge, as ministers try to reduce reliance on expensive hotels.
The first busload of men aged 18-65 arrived at the Bibby Stockholm in Portland, Dorset, flanked by police and security guards, at lunchtime on Monday, with more expected later that day.
The ship will hold 500 men awaiting an asylum decision, as part of the government’s attempts to prevent taxpayers from paying £6 million a day to accommodate 51,000 asylum seekers in hotels.
Migrants are transferred from hotels to the barge and held in two, four or six people in a bunk room with private bathroom with shower and sanitary facilities, free walking, cycling, cricket and festival excursions, as well as sports on board, a gym, movie theater and 24-hour food service.
Outside the enclosure, two groups of protesters have gathered, one from the “no to the barge” campaign, and another from Stand Up To Racism who are distributing “welcome packages” to newcomers, such as toiletries, pens and a map of the place. area.
Security 24/7 – and taxis at home
The first 50 migrants due to arrive on Monday will be housed there for up to nine months with security guards on call 24/7, airport-style baggage screening, metal detector and magnetic cards. identification when entering or exiting a walkway for a single main entrance.
The 93-metre-long, three-storey floating block was docked off the Dorset coast three weeks ago, but health and safety concerns, especially around fire risks, delayed the arrival of its occupants.