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Bishop of Leicester says plans to house asylum seekers on army bases and ships must be dropped

by Kelly Valencia

The Bishop of Leicester has urged the government to scrap plans to house asylum seekers on ships and Army bases.

Under current government proposals, people seeking asylum in the UK will be housed in former military barracks instead of hotels.

Last month, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said the plans would provide "cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats".

But in an open letter, Rt Revd Martyn Snow urged all MPs across Leicestershire to "focus their energies on creating an asylum system that works for the common good" instead.

"Housing asylum-seekers in hotels may be unsustainable. But, surely, the efforts and resources it will take to fit out military properties to house thousands more people, potentially procuring more facilities like ferries, and moving people from across the country could be better expended on solving the fundamental problems of poor productivity within the asylum application system itself (as cited by the Home Secretary)," Bishop Martyn wrote.

He continued: "I am urging you, therefore, to speak to your colleagues within government and ask them to reconsider the decision to move asylum-seekers to military bases, and to focus their energies instead on creating an asylum system that works for the common good, by in the first instance, processing claims efficiently and sensitively.

"If that call cannot be heeded, then please do advocate for, at the very least: the companies managing the accommodation to be held to the strictest health and safety and safeguarding standards; for them to follow a trauma-informed approach in their communication to, and care of, people seeking asylum; and for the provision of ESOL classes, schooling for children, and good access to healthcare and legal advice."

Bishop Martyn's plea echoes that of 1,500 other faith leaders who wrote to Downing Street earlier this month condemning plans to deport all asylum seekers arriving via small boats across the Channel, part of the Illegal Migration Bill currently going through parliament.

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