More ‘Contingency Units’ and proposals for housing people seeking asylum

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation, and other Home Office plans to accommodate people in new sites:

Updated 31 January 2021: Independent: Home Office put refugees in barracks after fears better housing would ‘undermine confidence’ in system

Exclusive: Internal documents reveal ministers justified placing hundreds of asylum seekers in military camps because more ‘generous’ accommodation would damage public perception of asylum system

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Summary of the camp_hotels situation

21 January 2021: Someone new to Qarn has written to ask: I am new to Qarn and find the wealth of info quite daunting .  Please can you tell me more about the new asylum seekers accomodation centre.  Where  can I find a summary of some of the initiatives etc and current state/numbers of asylum seekers in uk , many thanks.

The following long read may be helpful.  I know that others in the QARN group also have information. This is just one aspect of the concerns shared by QARN members – there is a lot to be concerned about and we can’t all do everything, but if we each do what we can maybe we can find a way to change the system.

To answer, it is maybe worth saying that there is a lot of traffic on QARN, but feel free to only pick up the emails that interest you.  I don’t keep up with everything myself, and I have been involved since 2007. 

I suggest that QARN is the same as other Quaker situations, where you should feel able to let some things pass if they don’t speak to you. There is a lot of history – some of us have been around for a long time, and others are fairly new to it, so feel free to ask questions, and please try not to feel daunted.

To begin to unpick the questions: first I’ll run through how the system works,  then explain why this is all suddenly of great concern. 

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Army-prison style camps used as ‘contigency units’

This post is being updated with reports of atrocities around the army camp accommodation:

Updated 24 January: [How dare they!}

100 Asylum Seekers at Former Military Barracks Test Positive for Coronavirus’
A coronavirus outbreak at a former army barracks being used to house asylum seekers in Kent could now have grown to at least 100 positive cases, ITV News has been told. One asylum seeker at the Napier Barracks near Folkestone claimed that almost one-quarter of the 400 men living there tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday. Concerns were raised on Friday that cases could spiral out of control as the hundreds of men on the site were apparently still free to mix with each other and social distancing was “impossible.”

On Tuesday, Home Office minister for Immigration Chris Philp said that he was “incredibly disappointed” to learn that the actions of some residents had contributed to the outbreak. In a statement he said: “A number of individuals refused tests and have been either refusing to self-isolate or follow social distancing rules, despite repeated requests to do so and these being national guidelines to protect the NHS and save lives.
Read more: ITV News,


Army barracks petition

A major health crisis is unfolding. A Covid outbreak has put vulnerable refugees in danger. Join us to call for the camps to close NOW.

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The UK’s hostile environment: Deputising immigration control

Melanie Griffiths, University of Birmingham, England
Colin Yeo, Garden Court Chambers, London
Abstract – the full text is here:

In 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May told a newspaper that she wanted to create a ‘really hostile environment’ for irregular migrants in the UK. Although the phrase has since mutated to refer to generalised stateled marginalisation of immigrants, this article argues that the hostile environment is a specific policy approach, and one with profound significance for the UK’s border practices. We trace the ‘hostile environment’ phrase, exposing its origins in other policy realms, charting its evolution into immigration, identifying the key components and critically reviewing the corresponding legislation.

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ICIBI An inspection of the Home Office’s use of sanctions and penalties

2021 Jan 14: Publishing the report, David Bolt said: For many this will seem to be a case of too little, and much too late. From ICIBI’s perspective, in 2016, and again in 2018 and 2019, a series of inspection reports recommended that the Home Office should monitor and evaluate the impact of the hostile/compliant environment. These recommendations were only “partially accepted” and never implemented. Had they been, some of the harms suffered by the Windrush generation and others may have been avoided.

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Petition: housing vulnerable asylum seekers in portacabins on wasteland next to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre

It’s the middle of a grim winter, the pandemic is fiercer than ever, and yet the Home Office wants to force hundreds of vulnerable refugees into cramped portacabins at the infamous Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

This is a cruel way to treat refugees, it’s badly planned policy and it should be stopped. One brave local resident has today launched a legal challenge to halt the Government in its tracks. It’s a cause we should all support.

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