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ASYLUM-SEEKERS held in a former army camp in Kent are being harassed and intimidated by far-right activists every time they leave the site, campaigners told the Morning Star today.
Refugee rights groups are holding a welcome event on Saturday outside Napier Barracks in Folkestone to show support for the asylum-seekers and “undercut” the hateful messages of a small number of racists.
Bridget Chapman from the Kent Refugee Action Network, one of the protest organisers, said: “There’s a narrative being pushed by the far right which says that people in Folkestone don’t want fellow human beings accommodated in the town.
“We know that is not true: we are overwhelmed by constant messages offering help and support for the new arrivals.”
Asylum-seekers have been moved to the former army barracks in recent weeks by the Home Office amid an apparent shortage of accommodation.
Human rights groups have raised concerns about “unsanitary” and “unsuitable” conditions at the site, which has a capacity of 400.
Concerns have also been raised about the targeting of the site by far-right activists.
Ms Chapman told the Star that asylum-seekers have been told to “go home” by racist individuals waiting outside the base, who also try to film and intimidate people.
“Authorities should be dealing with that and it’s disgraceful that they aren’t,” she added.
Asylum-seekers have also been targeted by far-right activists at a former army base in Pembrokeshire and outside hotels by members of Britain First.
The campaigner hopes Saturday’s protest will show asylum-seekers “the real Folkestone,” which has a “really proud tradition of welcoming refugees,” citing an incident during the first world war when 160,000 Belgian refugees were welcomed to the town.
“It was a mark of pride if you had given up your bed for somebody who was a refugee and that’s actually the real Folkestone,” Ms Chapman said.
The socially distanced event, hosted by over a dozen groups including charity Samphire and Churches Together Folkestone, will start at 11am.
Attendees are being asked to bring posters with messages of support.
A Home Office statement said: “We take the well-being of asylum-seekers extremely seriously and have taken every effort to ensure that the MoD site in Kent is sanitary and allows for social distancing.”
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