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Campaigner chain themselves to Home Office building in Cardiff in protest against the mistreatment of asylum-seekers

TWO campaigners chained themselves to the doors of a Home Office building in Cardiff today to draw attention to the treatment of asylum-seekers at an ex-military barracks. 

Campaigners described the camp in Pembrokeshire and a second in Kent called Napier Barracks, where the Home Office has held hundreds of asylum-seekers since September, as an “unnecessary experiment in human suffering.”

Lois Davis and Jenny Roberts chained themselves onto the main entrance of the visa and immigration office on Newport Road.

The pair held up a banner reading: “Asylum-seekers need homes not prisons.” 

The action comes in response to reports that the Home Office is planning to move more asylum-seekers into Napier Barracks despite multiple warnings from healthcare officials. 

Almost 200 people have become infected with Covid-19 at the scandal-hit site, where people sleep in rooms of up to 26. 

Last week it emerged that a local NHS body had raised concerns in January that there were too many people in each dorm to “allow adequate social distancing and to prevent the risk of spread of infection.”

It identified that a man with leukaemia was being held at the site while infections were spreading among the residents.

The Home Office on Thursday insisted that the virus outbreak came despite its “best efforts” and said that it has worked to address points raised in the report.

Conditions at Penally camp have also been widely condemned, with residents raising concerns about poor food quality, broken showers and toilets and the prison-like environment. 

“Wales has a proud culture of welcoming guests,” Ms Davis said. “These people seek only the opportunity to live a normal life and contribute to our society. 

“This is being denied to them by the Home Office, which prefers to keep them in a state of purgatory, not knowing if and when they can begin to study, work and get on with their lives. This further compounds the trauma that they have been trying to escape.”

Protesters blockaded one entrance, meaning service users were able to enter the site from other doors, Ms Davis told the Morning Star.

The pair were still locked onto the gates into the afternoon, after being told by police that they would be arrested. 

Protests have previously been staged outside Penally camp to welcome the asylum-seekers.

“We thought bringing it to Cardiff, [where] we’ve got the Welsh government would be an additional level of protesting and support people living in the camps,” Ms Davis added. 

Ms Roberts called for Penally camp to be shut down “immediately” and “suitable accommodation and support provided to help new migrants integrate and become active citizens.” 

The Home Office is planning to use both camps for another six months to hold asylum-seekers.

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