As the Illegal Migration Bill progresses at haste through Parliament, a new report by our friends at the Jesuit Refugee Service 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.
JRS UK ran an outreach service to Napier for two years from October 2020. What they saw on the ground was deeply troubling: the site was bleak and rundown, the setting was securitised, the accommodation was crowded. This all took a serious toll on mental health. This report draws from the accounts of 17 forcibly displaced people supported by JRS UK held in Napier Barracks between July and November 2022 including:
“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,” said Sarah Teather, Director, JRS UK.
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: