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by Bethany Rielly
ASYLUM-SEEKERS at an ex-army barracks in Wales are to be moved out of the site “in small numbers” from next week, the Home Office has confirmed.
Pressure has been building on the department to find alternative accommodation for the 250 men held at Penally Camp in Pembrokeshire since September amid claims of “appalling” and “degrading” conditions there.
Asylum-seekers have also expressed fears of catching Covid-19 due to “unsafe” conditions, while others said that the military environment had triggered past traumas.
Home Office Minister Chris Philp has said that all individuals will be moved “into suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical.”
“We are hoping to commence moves for small numbers of people out from week commencing January 18,” he said.
Some campaigners are sceptical about the announcement, raising concerns that transfers are likely to be a “very long process.”
Mr Philp did not specify when all residents of the camp will be moved out.
The announcement follows calls for an urgent inspection of the site.
Last week a group of around 50 camp residents marched to the nearby town of Tenby to demand that the site be shut down.
Concerns over broken showers and toilets, and poor food standards and safety were repeatedly raised by residents.
One asylum-seeker, who spoke to the Morning Star last month, said he feared they had been put in the camp “to die together.”
Another barracks holding asylum-seekers in Kent went into lockdown this week after an outbreak of Covid-19, with 100 positive tests, according to residents.
On Wednesday, the Home Office was accused of “callousness” for blaming residents at the camp, where more than 400 people are being held, for the outbreak.
Mr Philp said that the infections had spread “despite our best efforts.”
He said that he was “very disappointed” that some residents had “refused” to take tests or self-isolate.
Today, asylum-seekers at the camp wrote a letter in response to the minister’s comments, accusing the government of “intentionally ignoring us and trying their best to cover up the disaster which is happening in this army camp.”
“We are detained without knowing what we have done to deserve living conditions like this,” the letter, signed by over 100 asylum-seekers, said.
“There are fathers, sons and husbands here. There are nurses, teachers, engineers and talented people here and yet we have been treated like criminals or prisoners.”
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