1st batch of migrants in UK moved to Bibby Stockholm barge, more expected
Plan aims to house up to 500 men on 3-story floating barge while they await results of asylum application
By Burak Bir
PORTLAND, England (AA) – The first batch of UK asylum seekers has arrived on the Bibby Stockholm barge as more migrants are expected to move later Monday.
Video footage showed a bus with the migrants entering the port, although the exact number of arrivals is yet to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, a number of people also gathered near the entrance of the port to protest the government's asylum policies, especially the barge plan.
Carrying placards, the protesters chanted slogans: “‘Refugees are welcome here,’ ‘No prison barge,’ and ‘Stop the far-right’.”
The British government's plan to start moving the first batch of 50 migrants to the barge, moored at Portland Port in Dorset in the country’s southwest for three weeks, was delayed last week due to security concerns.
The plan aims to house up to 500 men, aged 18-65 on the three-story floating barge while they are waiting for the results of their asylum application.
Last Monday, the UK's Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also condemned the government's plans to house refugees on the Bibby Stockholm barge despite fire risks, saying it could become a "floating Grenfell," referring to a 2017 fire in London’s Grenfell Tower apartment building that claimed 72 lives.
According to the government, facilities such as the Bibby Stockholm are "considerably more cost-effective than hotels."
People sent to this facility will be single adult men aged 18 to 65 who are currently staying at hotels.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak listed tackling small boat crossings as one of his five priorities after over 45,000 migrants arrived in the country by crossing the English Channel last year.
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