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Asylum seekers protest in Napier Barracks in Folkestone

A group of asylum seekers housed in a Kent barracks have staged a protest against their conditions.

The group have unveiled banners saying that the conditions at Napier Barracks in Folkestone are unsafe.

People seeking asylum protesting at Napier Barracks
People seeking asylum protesting at Napier Barracks

The barracks are currently housing up to 400 people who are seeking refuge in the UK but authorities have come under fire after conditions were described as not Covid-safe.

Slogans on the banners in the protests read "We are at risk of Covid" and "We are ignored".

They also hit out at the difficulty of social distancing, following reports of 25 people sharing a toilet and bedroom, while 13 people crowd around two tables at meal times.

Tensions have hit new heights recently, with a video surfacing last month showing asylum seekers and police clashing during a disturbance at the camp.

In September, the charity Detention Action, which supports people held under immigration powers, labelled the arrangement at the barracks 'inappropriate'.

Journalist Jack Shenker caught footage of police dealing with a disturbance at the camp in November

Director Bella Sankey said: "Use of an army barracks to house traumatised asylum seekers is inappropriate enough, and now we hear Government is packing people in 20 to a room.

"It is difficult to see how this can comply with Covid guidance, nor risk undermining public health.

"We have a moral and legal obligation to offer protection to the world's most vulnerable, not expose them to a deadly virus in cramped and unsanitary conditions."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "This characterisation is wrong - nobody staying at Napier Barracks is being detained.

“Asylum seekers are able to come and go from the accommodation and are staying in safe, Covid-compliant conditions, in line with the law and social distancing requirements."

The spokeswoman added that public health advice was sought "to make best use of this accommodation, minimising risks from Covid-19" and says "occupancy in dormitories is limited to ensure a minimum distance between beds of at least 2 metres".

Police have been contacted for comment on today's protest.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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