Asylum seeker says UK government treating them worse than animals

An asylum seeker who was among those removed from the Bibby Stockholm barge after Legionella bacteria was recently found said the government is endangering migrants and treating them like “less than animals,” local media reported Monday.

Controversy over the government’s barge plan continued after all asylum seekers were moved Friday from the barge moored at Portland Port in Dorset in the country’s southwest after Legionella bacteria were found in the on-board water system.

The report of bacteria came three days after the Home Office said the first group of asylum seekers was housed on the barge after health and safety checks were completed.

Speaking to Sky News, one of the migrants who was among those removed from the barge said he is worried about falling ill after consuming the water onboard.

“We bathe with it, we drink it. We were told at 6 p.m. on Friday,” said the man, whose name is not mentioned in the report.

“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,” he added.

The first group of asylum seekers was housed on the three-story barge on Aug. 7, while some others refused to move on the barge.

“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,” the man said.

Describing the barge, the man, who arrived in the UK in December, noted that it is like “being in 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 added.

The Bibby Stockholm is one of the vessels that was announced by the government to accommodate 5,000 asylum seekers in a bid to lower the cost of hotels.

The controversial plan aims to house up to 500 men aged 18-65 on the floating barge who are waiting for the results of their asylum applications. They are currently staying in hotels.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak listed tackling small boat crossings as one of his five priorities after over 45,000 migrants arrived in the country by crossing the English Channel last year.

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