Asylum seeker barge ‘not appropriate here’, London’s Royal Docks tells Home Office

The Royal Docks Management Authority was asked to look into whether a cruise ship housing asylum seekers could be moored at the site.

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The Home Office was informed last month that housing asylum seekers on a barge in the Royal Docks would not be “appropriate”.

Scott Derben, managing director at the Royal Docks Management Authority, told LondonWorld the organisation was approached by the Government to investigate whether an accommodation barge could feasibly be moored at the docks.

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“After investigation, it was concluded that this would not be an appropriate use for the Royal Docks. The Home Office were informed of this decision in May,” he added.

The confirmation follows the news that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote to the Home Secretary Suella Braverman yesterday (June 8) outlining his opposition to alleged proposals to moor the barge in the King George V Dock in Newham.

Mr Khan told LondonWorld: “London for decades has been a safe haven for asylum seekers and refugees, providing a safe home for those fleeing persecution. What the Government’s got to be doing is addressing the massive backlog of claims not yet processed. In 2012, there were roughly 12,000 claims waiting to be processed, now it’s north of 120,000.

“They’ve got to speed up that process of assessing the claims of asylum seekers. Also what you shouldn’t be doing is housing people in offshore accommodation, that’s not a fit relation to health in relation to safety and wellbeing. We know unfortunately many people are being housed for a long period of time while their claim is being processed.

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“Many of these people will have been victims of torture, of modern slavery, of trafficking. They may need support from a GP, from a health practitioner, they may need English lessons, schools for their kids. The idea to put them on a barge in the Royal Docks beggars belief, that’s why I’ve written to the Home Secretary complaining and objecting to that.”

The mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, publicly criticised the barge plans, describing them as a “cynical and repugnant response to the desperate plight facing people fleeing war, famine and torture”.

A Home Office spokesperson described the claim the Government proposes to moor a barge at the Royal Docks as “speculation”.

They said: “The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow and requires us to look at a range of accommodation options which offer better value for the British taxpayer than expensive hotels. This is why we continue to source new alternative sites and vessels to accommodate migrants, which are more manageable for communities, as our European neighbours are doing. We understand the concerns of local communities and will work closely with councils and key partners to manage the impact of using these sites, including liaising with local police to make sure appropriate arrangements are in place.”

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