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On the 8th of December we sent a letter co-signed by more than 60 organisations to the Immigration Minister highlighting the risks of housing vulnerable asylum-seekers in crowded barracks and urging the government to implement community-based alternatives, to avoid further harm. Today we received a response.

Read the full response from Chris Philp

The minister did not acknowledge our suggestion that the government should start managing people's cases while they are in the community. The response also did not acknowledge the retraumatising effects of holding people fleeing war and torture in a militarised environment, which have also been highlighted to the Home Secretary by concerned medical professionals.

The mininister also stated that the two MOD barracks sites in Kent in Pembrokeshire are being used as asylum accommodation 'temporarily', although they have already been in use for several months. Finally, the minister's letter says that the barracks accommodation is Covid-19 safe, despite sleeping several people to a room.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have been calling for the safe, managed release of everyone in immigration detention due to the high risk to life posed by Covid-19 in these settings. While people at the ex-military barracks are not being held under detention powers, the nature and layout of the accommodation is similar as are the health risks.

Read more in The Guardian

Email your MP

We will be continuing to call for the closure of the barracks and hope that the government will begin to engage directly with civil society and those experiencing the asylum and detention system to find alternatives in the New Year.

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