Saturday, November 27

Parliamentarians denounce “appalling conditions” in facilities for asylum seekers | Immigration and asylum

MPs have expressed serious concerns about the “dire conditions” they found in Kent for asylum seekers, including an unaccompanied boy housed in an office for 10 days and a girl forced to sleep on a sofa for days on end.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the select committee on home affairs, He has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel following a committee visit Tuesday in which MPs saw asylum seekers being held in cramped, unsafe and “completely inappropriate” facilities.

Cooper described how they found 56 people crammed into a small unventilated waiting room before being assigned a subsequent location. There was no social distancing or wearing of masks, and it was difficult to see how safe it was for Covid, he said.

“Most of the people were sitting or lying on a thin mattress and covered almost the entire floor, including the aisles between the seats. Sharing these crowded conditions were many women with very young infants and children along with a significant number of adolescent men and young adults, ”he wrote.

Parliamentarians also visited the Atrium premises, “essentially an office space with a large central hall and several adjoining offices”, where asylum seekers were held while waiting for an ongoing trip, often for several days in a row, and in some cases, up to 10 days. .

Cooper said the Home Office had confirmed to the committee that one of the people detained at the Atrium premises for more than 10 days was an unaccompanied child. They also said: “A girl was sleeping on a sofa in an office, as the only separate sleeping place available. For children, this type of accommodation for days and days is completely inappropriate. “

He added: “It is extremely disturbing that a situation has been allowed to emerge and persist in which vulnerable children, families and youth are detained in this grossly inadequate office space for days and even weeks.”

The home affairs committee’s letter comes amid growing concern among councils and children’s charities about the legality of the Home Office accommodating asylum-seeking children in hotels. Under the Children’s Act, local authorities have legal responsibility for the care of children.

The Brighton and Hove council has written to Patel requesting assurances about the safety and care of dozens of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who were accommodated in a local hotel just 24 hours in advance and without consultation. The council said it understood that one of the newcomers had tested positive for Covid and that the Home Office was organizing PCR tests for everyone at the hotel.

Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said he had asked for reassurance about the children’s ongoing and ongoing care and support, but had not yet received a response. “While we continue to press for information, we are also seeking our own legal advice to clarify the responsibilities of the Interior Ministry towards these young people and what exactly this covers.”

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