LONDON — A joint letter from 39 migrants who have been housed on a controversial U.K. barge for asylum seekers says one attempted suicide.
The letter, sent to the U.K.’s Home Office, said the group’s move onto the Bibby Stockholm — a vessel moored in Dorset, England — was a “harsh tragedy,” and described it as an “unsafe, frightening, and isolated place.”
The 39 asylum seekers write that, in the five days they were housed on the barge before being temporarily moved off due to the discovery of legionella bacteria on board, “one of the asylum seekers attempted suicide, but we acted promptly and prevented this unfortunate event.”
“Considering the ongoing difficulties, it’s not unexpected that we might face a repeat of such situations in the future,” they warn. “Some friends even said they wished they had the courage to commit suicide, and our personal belief is that many of these individuals might resort to this foolishness to escape from problems in the future.”
The U.K. government has argued that the use of the barge will help cut the cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels while they await the processing of their claims.
However, since being moved off the barge following the legionella discovery, the asylum seekers are now being housed in a hotel, which the letter describes as “old and abandoned.”
“We even lack the desire to live and perform any tasks. The absence of tranquillity, comfort, and basic needs has become our daily concerns,” the group’s letter states, adding “we are individuals who are tired of the challenges that have arisen and no longer have the strength to face them.”
Asked to respond to the letter, a spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We are following all protocol and advice from Dorset Council’s Environmental Health team, U.K. Health Security Agency and Dorset NHS, who we continue to work closely with.
“Further tests are being conducted and we intend to re-embark asylum seekers only when there is confirmation that the water system meets relevant safety standards. The safety of those onboard remains the priority.”