Napier Barracks – Emblematic of Life in the Asylum System

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Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) UK has released an in-depth report into the experiences of people held in asylum camps in Napier Barracks.

As the Illegal Migration Bill progresses at haste through Parliament, this report shines a unique light onto the asylum system, particularly Napier Barracks. Interviews with men held at Napier Barracks, a disused army base on a hilltop in Kent, show the reality inside a system which threatens to expand exponentially if the Illegal Migration Bill legislation is passed.

I was in Napier barracks for more than 2 months. I am now looking back at what I have been through and think how traumatising that experience was. The whole asylum process was traumatising, and Napier barracks was emblematic of that.

Erfan, former resident of Napier Barracks.

“Disused military barracks are especially inappropriate as asylum accommodation. The military barracks are prison-like and institutional. In this report, men have shared how the conditions at Napier are reminiscent of conditions they fled. These quasi-detention conditions expose people to significant re-trauma. This serves no good purpose. It is ghettoising. It must not be the new normal for asylum accommodation in the UK. It is not too late to turn back.” Sarah Teather, Director, JRS UK.

JRS UK worked with people placed at Napier barracks in Kent for two years from when it was repurposed as asylum accommodation in autumn 2020. In September 2021, the government deployed emergency powers to extend the site’s use for this purpose for another five years. This move came despite significant criticism of facilities at the site, including a judgment from the High Court declaring them inadequate and the Home Office guilty of employing unlawful practices. Furthermore, the use of emergency powers circumvented consultation with local community that such an extension would normally require.

The government plans to make sites like Napier the new normal for asylum accommodation, and this report demonstrates how profoundly destructive that would be for all those involved.

Read the Report

Source: Jesuit Refugee Service UK