Hundreds to be moved into Napier Barracks despite previous virus outbreak

Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
·2 min read

Hundreds more people are to be moved into Napier Barracks despite serious concerns over conditions, the PA news agency can reveal.

The expected increase comes after nearly 200 cases of Covid-19 were detected and dozens of residents had to be moved out to deal with the crisis earlier this year.

Also on Tuesday, a baby was seen being carried ashore in Dover after having made the dangerous trip across the English Channel.

An announcement on Monday afternoon, seen by PA, informed local organisations that plans are in place to increase numbers at the controversial barracks to 337 over the coming weeks.

Around 50 people have been moved into the barracks in recent weeks, and the Home Office has declined to comment on how many more would be moved in.

People seeking asylum – Napier Barracks
A view of Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Reacting to the news, Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, told PA: “At the end of the day it’s still dormitory accommodation – how can that be Covid safe?

“What are they going to do if there’s another Covid outbreak? How is it going to be very different?”

The department has faced repeated criticism for its use of the military site in Folkestone, Kent, with a group of MPs condemning the conditions as “utterly unacceptable”.

Ms Moseley argued that the continued use of the barracks to house asylum seekers was “political”.

“We need leadership that treats refugees with dignity and respect, and we know that people in this country want that,” she said.

One Napier Barracks resident, speaking anonymously, said: “The living conditions are really bad here to the point that there’s 20 people living in one room.

“We are also very worried about getting ill and catching the virus.”

Another said: “I can no longer bear this situation. I want to get out as soon as possible.”

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
A young girl amongst a group of people thought to be migrants as they are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)

In Dover, a baby wrapped in a polka-dot coat was seen being carried ashore by border officials.

Dozens of people are thought to have made the perilous crossing on Tuesday and a beach landing has also been reported.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “While pressure on the asylum system remains we will continue to make use of Napier Barracks.

“Asylum seekers are staying in safe, suitable, Covid-compliant conditions, where they receive three nutritious meals a day.

“We have also made a significant number of improvements to the site following feedback from residents and inspectors.”