Britain announces to lease barge to house 500 asylum seekers

LONDON: Britain announced it had leased a barge to house around 500 asylum seekers on England’s south coast as it seeks to cut lodging costs for migrants arriving on its shores.

The Home Office said the accommodation barge will be used “to reduce the unsustainable pressure on the UK’s asylum system and cut the cost to the taxpayer caused by the significant increase in Channel crossings.”

The barge that will be berthed in Portland Port is the first of its kind in the UK and will accommodate single men while their asylum claims are processed, with the first residents due in the “coming months”.

“The use of expensive hotels to house those making unnecessary and dangerous journeys must stop. We will not elevate the interests of illegal migrants over the British people we are elected to serve,” said Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.

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“We have to use alternative accommodation options, as our European neighbours are doing — including the use of barges and ferries to save the British taxpayer money and to prevent the UK from becoming a magnet for asylum shoppers in Europe,” he added.

The “Bibby Stockholm”, which is to be operational for at least 18 months, will provide basic accommodation and healthcare, catering facilities and round-the-clock security.

Residents whose claims are refused and have exhausted their appeal rights will be removed from the country, said the government.

“We are keen to play our part in the national effort to house some of the thousands of people needing accommodation,” said Bill Reeves, Chief Executive of Portland Port.

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