RAF base-turned-refugee holding camp reports TB outbreak

RAF Wethersfield
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A former military base being used to hold asylum seekers and refugees has reported a tuberculosis outbreak. The controversial holding centre near Braintree, Essex, has been earmarked to hold 1700 asylum seekers, all of which will be men. The first 46 arrived in July.

But a spokesperson refused to confirm the number of infected people and defended the controversial holding facility.

We continue to work across government and with local authorities to look at a range of accommodation options.

Contested refugee site

In July, the High Court gave local councils permission to challenge the use of local former military bases like RAF Wethersfield to house asylum seekers. Home secretary Suella Braverman has said she wants asylum seekers housed in such bases to save the public purse. 

And at the time of the High Court ruling, a Home Office spokesperson said:

As this matter is subject to ongoing litigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

We remain committed to deliver accommodation on surplus military sites which are not only more affordable for taxpayers, helping to reduce the use the £6million daily cost of hotels but are also more manageable for local communities.

Read on...

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But far from being about saving public cash, the policy of warehousing refugees in terrible accommodation is a function of the Tories‘ brutal anti-refugee ideology.

Hostile environment

In truth, the camps are one of a range of measures brought in to criminalise refugees and strip away their dignity. Are any meagre savings that might come from shoving human beings into warehouses that breed disease worth it? Another similar example is the Bibby Stockholm, a floating prison barge meant to house up to 500 asylum seekers.

Underpinning it all, however, is the racist Tory anti-refugee bill. As the Canary has reported:

Braverman’s bill, if enacted, would see huge changes in the way the UK handles refugees and asylum seekers. For example, anyone arriving in the UK via boat or on the back of a lorry will not be able to claim asylum. That stipulation applies even if they have come from a war-torn country, or faced repression.

Of course, it is predictable that these plans would lead to more misery. And it’s entirely predictable that cramming people into old military bases would result in major health issues. Clearly, it’s past time that a humane and sensible approach to refugees and asylum seekers came into effect.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Glyn Baker, cropped to 1910 x 1000, licenced under CC BY 2.0

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  • Show Comments
      1. That infamous title is perhaps shared with Spain, which imposed the deliberate cruelties of ‘reconcentración’ on Cubans in 1895. The island colony’s governor-general, Arsenio Martínez Campos, invented the tactic against Cuban rebels rightly demanding independence.

        “Civilians were forced, on penalty of death, to move into these encampments, and within a year the island held tens of thousands of dead or dying reconcentrados, who were lionized as martyrs in U.S. newspapers. No mass executions were necessary; horrific living conditions and lack of food eventually took the lives of some 150,000 people.

        When U.S. newspapers reported on Spain’s brutality, Americans shipped millions of pounds of cornmeal, potatoes, peas, rice, beans, quinine, condensed milk, and other staples to the starving peasants, with railways offering to carry the goods to coastal ports free of charge.”

        Ironic, given the 60+ years of suffering that US governments have since imposed on the people of Cuba.


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