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Asylum seekers ‘crammed in rooms with 20 sharing two toilets’ at run-down barracks

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Asylum seekers housed in a run-down military barracks are being crammed in 20 to a room amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is claimed.

Refugees at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, say 20 people are sharing two toilets and two showers.

Campaigners said their treatment amounted to “quasi-detention”.

Suley, 19, from Ethiopia, said: “In my room there are two of us and that is OK, but in the next room there are 20 people in there, probably more.”

A Sudanese refugee we are calling Baoo, 30, confirmed the claim, and said: “It is dangerous with the virus, people are too close, and we are told the virus will get worse in the winter.

“If only one person gets infected then lots of us will get infected within a day.”

The Government is now sending arrivals to stay at Napier Barracks and another camp in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

The Home Office said arrivals quarantined for two weeks in hotels before being sent to the barracks while their asylum claims were being processed.

Bella Sankey, director of immigration welfare charity Detention Action, said: “How is 20 people in one room Covid-secure? It feels like quasi-detention. Hotel accommodation is inappropriate for many reasons, but barracks is 10 times worse.

“We have traumatised asylum seekers being kept in a military base.”

Suley and his 23-year-old friend Hussain, also Ethiopian, said they had been in a hotel in London, with individual rooms, for two months before arriving in Kent four days ago.

Standing by the barbed wire fencing, Suley said: “We have no idea why we are here. Do you know what they will do with us?”

Bridget Chapman, from Kent Refugee Action Network, said: “These are old buildings that were earmarked for demolition. I am concerned about the site being fit for purpose and Covid-secure.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “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.”

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