Bibby Stockholm: 'Floating prison' or 'cheaper option' to house migrants?

Bibby Stockholm: 'Floating prison' or 'cheaper option' to house migrants?

Plan aims to house up to 500 men on barge, while migrants currently staying in hotels wait for results of asylum application

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) - UK's new accommodation for asylum-seekers has been under spotlight since it was announced and leased by the government.

The country remains divided over the Bibby Stockholm barge, dubbed a "floating prison" by critics.

The Bibby Stockholm is one of the vessels that was announced by the government to accommodate 5,000 asylum seekers, in a bid to lower the cost of hotels.

The first group of asylum seekers were housed on the three-story barge on Aug. 7, and more migrants are expected to move in the coming days and weeks, according to the government.

Although the barge, moored at Portland Port in Dorset in the country’s southwest, has 222 cabins, its capacity was increased to 506 after placing bunk beds in each room.

The controversial plan aims to house up to 500 men, aged 18-65, on the floating barge while migrants who are currently staying in hotels, are waiting for the results of their asylum application.

Owned by UK-based Bibby Line Group, the Bibby Stockholm weighs 10,659 tons, is 93.44 meters (306.6 feet) long and its beam is 27.43 meters (90.0 feet).

- Accommodation for workers, homeless, asylum seekers

Built in 1976 by the Dutch company Nederlandse Scheepsbouw, Barbados-flagged vessel was converted into an accommodation barge in 1992. Two years later, it began operating to house the homeless and some asylum seekers in Germany.

In 2005, the Netherlands began to use it to house asylum seekers. The barge also witnessed a death when Rachid Abdelsalam, an Algerian asylum-seeker died from heart failure on board in 2008.

The Bibby Stockholm then arrived in Scotland in 2013 and was used as accommodation for construction workers at the Shetland Gas Plant.

There was even talk to use the Bibby Stockholm as university accommodation in Ireland, but the plan was later scrapped.

Later, moving to Sweden in 2018 it was used to assist in construction of Markbygden Wind Farm.

This April, the UK government announced a plan to use a barge to house asylum seekers and three months later the Bibby Stockholm arrived and moored at Portland Port in Dorset for at least 18 months.

- 'Barge will help cut daily $7.6M hotel bill'

According to the British government, Portland has been identified as a "suitable place" in which to berth an accommodation barge and the site at Portland is designed to be "as self-sufficient as possible" to minimize the impact on local communities and services.

But more importantly, those who defend the barge plan said that it will help cut £6 million-a-day (some $7.6 million) hotel bills as the government earlier said that facilities such as the Bibby Stockholm barge are "considerably more cost-effective than 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.

He has repeatedly said: "If you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay."

Additionally, the Home Office confirmed the first arrivals of asylum seekers on the barge.

"I have been clear that the unacceptable number of people making frankly illegal and dangerous crossings must stop," Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in July as part of the statement, saying thousands of asylum seekers would be moved out of hotels.

- 'Could be Floating Grenfell or death trap?'

Many charities, advocates and concerned citizens as well as opposition figures have expressed their concern about the "quasi-prison" vessel and decried the government's migration policy since the Bibby Stockholm was announced.

In addition to backlash towards UK's general asylum policies, there are specific warnings about the safety of the vessel, especially fire risk as it was reported earlier that there are fears that the barge could become a "floating Grenfell," which refers to a 2017 fire in London’s Grenfell Tower apartment building that claimed 72 lives.

The UK's Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also condemned the government's plans to house refugees on the Bibby Stockholm barge despite fire risks.

"Forcing asylum seekers into accommodation that has been properly fire risk assessed is a reckless approach to the safety and well-being of both vulnerable refugees and firefighters," warned the union's Assistant General Secretary Ben Selby.

The first arrival was expected to take place in July but it was delayed after critics called the plan a "death trap."

A potential lack of ingress and exit points are another concern, as the barge was originally built to house 222 people but is now expected to house more than 500.

Meanwhile a study that was published early in July raised questions on the controversial plan's goal to save British taxpayer money.

Housing asylum seekers on a barge will save less than £10 ($12.7) a person a day, according to a report jointly conducted by NGOs Reclaim the Seas and One Life to Live.

It noted that the barge choice could save £4.694 ($5.974) on the daily hotel bill of millions, or 0.08% of the current spend.​​​​​​​

Kaynak:Source of News

This news has been read 170 times in total

UYARI: Küfür, hakaret, rencide edici cümleler veya imalar, inançlara saldırı içeren, imla kuralları ile yazılmamış,
Türkçe karakter kullanılmayan ve büyük harflerle yazılmış yorumlar onaylanmamaktadır.
Previous and Next News