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Asylum-seekers to be moved from disused army barracks after Covid-19 outbreak

Freedom from Torture say the transfer is a ‘good start’ but the unsafe camp should be ‘closed down completely and immediately’

ABOUT 100 asylum-seekers will be moved from an army barracks in Kent after a massive Covid-19 outbreak, but campaigners are calling for the site to be fully shut down.  

The transfers will be made over the next few days to hotels in the local area. It comes after residents of Napier Barracks, a former army camp in Folkestone where more than 400 asylum-seekers have been held since September, reported that 100 people had tested positive for Covid at the site. 

Folkestone & Hythe District Council said that the Home Office is “temporarily moving a number of asylum-seekers out from the Napier accommodation facility into self-isolation facilities in order to allow others at Napier to self-isolate more easily.”

This was confirmed by the Home Office. Only those with a negative PCR test will be transferred and have to self-isolate for 10 days.

Freedom from Torture’s senior policy adviser Sile Reynolds told the Morning Star that the transfers were a “good start” but did not go far enough. “We want to see the camps closed down completely and immediately,” she said. “If it’s not safe for the 100 people they are moving out, then it is not safe for the people who remain in the camp.

“From our view, if you can have an outbreak once, then you can have another outbreak, and the barracks are not designed, regardless of what the Home Office says, to be fully Covid-19-compliant.”

News of the outbreak last week triggered a series of petitions calling on the government to close down the Napier Barracks and Penally Camp in Wales, where about 250 asylum-seekers are being held. 

A petition by Freedom from Torture has amassed over 14,000 signatures. 

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