Asylum seeker removed from Bibby Stockholm says migrants being treated like ‘animals’

UK

An asylum seeker taken off the Bibby Stockholm barge following the discovery of Legionella bacteria says the government is “endangering” migrants and treating them like “less than animals”.

The man, who we are not naming, spoke to Sky News outside the hotel he was moved to following the evacuation by the Home Office on Friday night.

He boarded the barge on Wednesday and said he is worried about falling ill after consuming the water onboard.

“We bathe with it, we drink it. We were told at 6pm on Friday,” he said.

“I feel so bad. Especially because on the news they said they took water samples but instead of waiting for (a) result before putting people on there, they just put us on there: it’s like we don’t matter.

“They should have been so sure it is habitable. Why not wait for the result and be sure everything is okay? We are being treated like less than animals. They are endangering us.”

Sky News witnessed security at his new hotel pointing out journalists to any migrants leaving.

The asylum seeker we spoke to arrived in the UK in December and was one of 39 men who were put on the barge last week – before the government removed them as a precautionary measure on Friday.

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‘When was govt told about Legionella?’

“I’m not happy about it,” he said. “I’m deeply sad. Because if they had cared about us enough, if they had known since Monday, they shouldn’t have put us there: why did they still put us there?”

He added: “I’m worried about becoming ill. Here I’m all alone. I don’t have family.”

Describing what it is like on board, he told Sky News: “For me it’s small, like being on a prison, because the security is too much. There’s no freedom. For me I have a fear of water. I can’t swim. Me being on water, my heart palpitates. I can’t sleep.”

He said a nurse in the hotel was checking on residents, but he was not aware of anyone showing signs of Legionnaires’ disease.

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Would Labour use barges?

The Home Office said none of the migrants on the barge had shown any symptoms of the disease.

The Legionella outbreak has prompted a blame game between Dorset Council, contractors on the barge and the Home Office about who was notified and when.

The council went on to claim a Home Office staff member was informed about the bacteria on Tuesday.

However, a government source previously told Sky News there was no record of this conversation, and claimed the Home Office only received a written notification about the Legionella on Wednesday evening.

Read more:
Rishi Sunak still has ‘confidence’ in home secretary despite Legionella discovery
Asylum seekers should be moved back on the barge despite row over Legionella, health secretary says

Dorset Council has said Home Office contractors were notified about the results last Monday – four days before people were moved off the barge.

Downing Street repeatedly said the government had acted quickly after being informed about the traces of Legionella bacteria.

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