Illegal Channel migrants who have been protesting about their living conditions at an ex-military facility in Kent have been moved to hotels following an outbreak of Covid-19 at the camp.
The Napier barracks in Folkestone has housed hundreds of migrants pending identity checks and asylum claims since becoming the UK’s first migrant camp in September last year.
The viral outbreak was first reported by this site last week, when several of the migrants tested positive for coronavirus and the site was forced into a lockdown – albeit a loose one.
Many of the migrants selfishly refused to take the test, making it harder for authorities to control the spread, and some even refused to self-isolate properly.
An official at Napier Barracks at the time was recorded saying: “This is one big house…so they can roam around their house…we can’t stop them.
“We advised them they have to stay in their rooms for isolation, for their own health and everyone else’s health. If they still choose to come out that’s up to them.”
The immigration compliance minister Chris Philp warned that “these individuals could face enforcement action and are not only risking their own health but the health of staff looking after them and the communities who are accommodating them.”
But it has now emerged that 100 of the camp’s occupants have been moved out of the barracks to enjoy stints in hotels.
The Home Office has justified the decision by saying it helps the asylum seekers self-isolate, and Folkestone and Hythe Council have supported the move, but many are concerned that the unruly migrant mob are being rewarded for dangerous and reckless behaviour.
One social media user warned that “those left will riot and be removed to yet another hotel”, dubbing the situation a cat and mouse game. Another asked: “Why aren’t they being deported? This will just encourage more to come.”
Since its inception, the facility has been subject to various reports of disturbances and violent incidents including last month when a resident “grabbed a knife and terrified staff” and another was accused of sexually harassing a charity worker.
Earlier this month police officers were forced to risk their lives to attend a protest being carried out by the migrants in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, demanding their “freedom” because their newfound surroundings aren’t plush enough.
Their complaints contradicted reports of conditions at the site, with one source telling The Sun that they “have access to PlayStations and a new state-of-the-art gym is being built on the site” while another worried that “many have just disappeared into the community and not been seen since” because rules at the camp are so lax.