An announcement that will make ink flow. The British government announced on Wednesday it would use a barge docked in the port of Portland, southern England, to house 500 asylum seekers, in a bid to cut costs and try to deter illegal crossings of the Channel.
The UK Home Office highlights a "significant step" in the promise of Rishi Sunak's Conservative government to "stop the boats" on which tens of thousands of migrants arrive on English shores each year, putting the UK asylum system under pressure.
The barge, named 'Bibby Stockholm', will be able to "accommodate around 500 men while their asylum claims are being considered", the Home Office said. It will provide "basic and functional facilities", 24-hour care and security on board, "to minimize disruption to the local population".
Strongly criticized for this project already mentioned recently by the Secretary of State for Immigration Robert Jenrick, the government underlines that such a solution has been used in the Netherlands, but also in Scotland to welcome Ukrainian refugees. "The use of expensive hotels to house those making unnecessary and dangerous journeys must end," Robert Jenrick said in a statement Wednesday. “We will not elevate the interests of illegal migrants above those of the Britons we are elected to serve. »
"We need to use alternative accommodation options, as our European neighbors do, including the use of barges and ferries to save UK taxpayers money and prevent the UK from becoming a magnet" for asylum seekers, he added. According to the government, hosting migrants in hotels costs £6 million per day (€6.84 million), £2.3 billion (€2.6 billion) per year.
In December, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he wanted to cut the bill for accommodation for asylum seekers in half.
Last week, the government announced that two disused military sites would also be used. The project, which has drawn criticism from associations helping asylum seekers and concern from local elected officials, aims to eventually accommodate thousands of migrants.
Last year, a record number of migrants (more than 45,000) reached English shores by crossing the English Channel in small boats.
The Conservative government intends to dissuade migrants from coming to the United Kingdom irregularly and has made this one of its priorities when successive plans in recent years have failed to stem the phenomenon. He also wants to send them to Rwanda, a project suspended by court decisions.