UK says more migrants to move to floating barge later this week

UK says more migrants to move to floating barge later this week

1st arrivals of asylum seekers being housed on Bibby Stockholm barge after 'all health, fire, safety checks,' says Home Office

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) – The British government confirmed Tuesday that the 1st asylum seekers "are now being housed" on the Bibby Stockholm barge, saying more will move to the floating accommodation soon.

The first arrivals of asylum seekers boarded the barge "after it successfully completed all health, fire, and safety checks," according to a Home Office spokesperson.

On Monday, some asylum seekers, believed to be less than 20, were moved to the vessel as part of a plan that aims to house up to 500 men on the three-story floating barge while they await the results of their asylum applications.

"The number of people on board will increase gradually with more arrivals later this week and in the coming months, as part of a carefully structured phased approach," the spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement noted that this move aimed to "bring forward alternative accommodation options" to reduce the use of expensive hotels.

The government earlier said that facilities such as the Bibby Stockholm barge are "considerably more cost-effective than hotels."

However, there has been a wide range of concerns regarding the safety of the vessels, as it was reported last week 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.

People sent to the barge, moored at Portland Port in Dorset in the country’s southwest, will be single adult men aged 18 to 65 who are currently staying at hotels.

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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