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The Asylum Seekers Nightmare: How They Face Almost Nightly Fights’ at the Wethersfield Centre

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Asylum seekers staying at the Wethersfield immigration centre in North Essex have reported ‘almost nightly fights’ between different nationalities, amid overcrowding and poor conditions.

The BBC has seen video footage that appeared to show a fight involving several men in a canteen where chairs were thrown and one man had a bloodied face.

According to Express, The Wethersfield immigration centre, which is a former RAF base, was opened in October 2023 to accommodate asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats.

The centre has a capacity of 1,000 people, but according to the Home Office, it currently houses about 1,200 people.

A migrant from Sudan, who did not want to be named, told the BBC that he had been staying at the centre for two months and that the situation was ‘unacceptable’. He said:

There is almost nightly fighting with another nationality, because the number of people is many. The food is not good, the toilets are not clean, the showers are cold, the beds are uncomfortable. We are not animals, we are human beings.’

He also said that he had not received any information about his asylum claim or when he would be moved to another accommodation. He said: ‘We don’t know anything. We are just waiting and waiting. We don’t have any rights here. We are like prisoners.’

The Home Office said that it was ‘working hard’ to reduce the number of people at the centre and that it had ‘robust plans’ to deal with any incidents of violence or disorder.

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A spokesperson said: ‘We take the wellbeing of those in our care extremely seriously and any unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated. We have a zero-tolerance approach to violence and those responsible will face the full force of the law.

The spokesperson also said that the centre provided ‘safe and secure’ accommodation for asylum seekers and that they had access to ‘healthcare, welfare and legal support’.

The spokesperson said: ‘We are fixing our broken asylum system to make it firm and fair. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.

However, some charities and campaigners have criticised the conditions and management of the centre, and called for its closure.

Clare Moseley, the founder of Care4Calais, a charity that supports refugees in France and the UK, said: ‘The Wethersfield centre is a disgrace. It is overcrowded, dirty, and dangerous. It is not fit for human habitation. It is a breeding ground for tension, violence, and disease. It is a humanitarian crisis in our own backyard.

She also said that the centre was ‘a waste of taxpayers’ money’ and that it did not address the root causes of the asylum issue. She said: ‘The government is spending millions of pounds on this centre, but it is not solving the problem.

It is only creating more misery and suffering for vulnerable people who have fled war, persecution, and torture.

The government should close this centre and invest in safe and legal routes for refugees, such as family reunion, resettlement, and humanitarian visas.’

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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