Furious protesters brand barge that will hold up to 500 migrants a ‘floating human right’s violation’ as it is docked in Falmouth to be refurbished
- Barge is being refitted in Falmouth, Cornwall, before it is set to house migrants
- READ MORE: Fury as 500-bed migrant barge to be docked off coast of Dorset
Angry locals in Falmouth, Cornwall have been protesting the arrival of a huge barge designed to house up to 500 asylum seekers, describing it as a ‘floating human rights violation’.
Crowds turned up to voice their ‘disgust and embarrassment’ that the barge, known as the Bibby Stockholm, is being refitted and refurbished at the docks in the Cornish town.
Dozens attended the protest with several speakers voicing their concerns about the barge, the conditions within it, and the general attitude of the Home Office towards asylum seekers.
Protesters held up signs reading ‘no one is illegal’ and ‘human beings are not cargo’ as they marched through the town to highlight their opposition to the boat being worked on there.
The barge is then expected to be moved to Portland, on the Dorset coast, where it will house up to 500 male migrants while asylum claims are processed.
A huge three-storey barge known as the Bibby Stockholm is being refitted in the docks in Falmouth, Cornwall
Crowds turned up to voice their ‘disgust and embarrassment’ at the works being done in the Cornish town
During one speech, one of the around 50 protestors said: ‘The ship will be a floating human rights violation, illegal under international law.
‘Those who will be imprisoned on the ship might not know that Falmouth was complicit in their detention and their suffering, but we do, and that’s why we’re here.
‘The people who live here have come here today to make our voices heard.
‘Today, we stand here together to reject Cornwall’s complicity to border violence.
‘We stand by Cornwall’s motto: that Cornwall has and always will be a place for one and a place for all.
‘We call on every person here to reject the use of our waters and this land and resources to be used by millionaires in the British government to produce prisons to detain people who we will always have more in common with than we do with Boris Johnson, or Rishi Sunak, or Suella Braverman.’
Despite criticism from charities and politicians, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it would save taxpayer money and reduce pressure on hotels and would operate for at least 18 months.
Dozens attended the protest with several speakers voicing their concerns about the barge
Protesters held up signs as they marched through the town. One sign read: ‘The UK has a duty to provide a safe home for people it has displaced via colonialism and the climate crisis’
Another protester in Falmouth added: ‘It seems to me that the government is basically pandering to racism.
READ MORE: Fury as 500-bed migrant barge to be docked off coast of Dorset
Colette Finnigan, who lives in Portland, said: ‘It takes weeks to get a doctor’s appointment as it is’
‘These poor souls, if only they were given the chance to settle in this country. They are overwhelmingly a benefit to this country. We’re a country of immigration.
‘I think a political party needs to own immigration and sell it to the public as the overwhelming benefit that it is.
‘It’s very, very easy to get emotional about these things, but there’s a fundamental need in this country for immigration because our population is getting older.
‘There’s going to come a time where the working population is outweighed by the retired population, and our birth rate is falling.
‘We need a political party to grasp this now and tell the truth, we going to need mass immigration if we’re going to look after our old people in the future.’
Tom Scott of Cornwall Green Party, who was in attendance at the rally said he was horrified at the way refugees were being treated in this country.
He added: ‘The fact that there is a kind of floating prison slash concentration camp being fitted out in Falmouth, in the 21st century is just unconscionable.
‘The reason that they’re using this kind of accomodation is because they want to make conditions so bad that people will not actually come to this country, and that’s disgraceful.
‘We have a duty in international law to give asylum to people who are fleeing in that way, and we’re not doing that, we’re trying to deter them from coming.
‘We’re proposing to deport them to a country in Africa to which they have absolutely no connection to or desire to live and where they will, in all likelihood, also be treated very badly Rwanda has a very poor human rights record, so that’s why I’m here.’
An aerial view of the barge, which is spread over three storeys and will house around 500 migrants
The huge three-story vessel being brought into Falmouth harbour earlier this week
The barge was towed from Italy and will now undergo safety checks as well as being refitted to increase the onboard capacity as it currently only has space for 200 people
It will now undergo safety checks as well as being refitted to increase the onboard capacity as it currently only has space for 200 people
The Bibby Stockholm was towed from Italy and will now undergo safety checks as well as being refitted to increase the onboard capacity as it currently only has space for 200 people
The barge is scheduled to arrive at its final destination in Portland Port in June, with locals in the town raising concerns about what the influx of people will mean for them.
Conservative MP for the area, Richard Drax, has described the vessel as a ‘quasi prison’ and claimed it would have a significant impact on the ‘sensitive family-based seaside resort’.
He said he only found out that his constituency would be hosting it on March 21, when he had a call from the Home Secretary, The Mirror reports.
Portland bay in Dorset where migrant floating hotel boats are proposed to be located
The barge offers ‘delicious, nutritious food’ in its restaurant and Wi-Fi throughout the ship
The vessel will accommodate up to 506 people in 222 en-suite bedrooms who will be free to come and go while their asylum claims are processed
A gym inside the barge, which is owned by Liverpool based company Bibby Marine
The furious MP told the House of Commons: ‘We were told that the barge is coming, not what’s your opinion, how will you cope and what support do you need.’
Dorset Council said they had ‘serious concerns about the suitability of the location for this facility’ and had been given ‘limited input’.
The three-storey high vessel has 222 bedrooms and a gym, TV and games room.
The cost of using the Swedish vessel is understood to be £20,000 a day.
The Home Office have said all the migrants, who are awaiting a decision on their bid for permanent asylum, will be fingerprinted and photographed and the barge will be used for 18 months.
They have also said the migrants will be allowed to leave the vessel – but must return by an 11pm curfew.
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