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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 February 2021

Covid outbreak at Kent asylum detention centre: Napier is not fit for purpose

Solidarity protest with refugees in Kent in September 2020

Solidarity protest with refugees in Kent in September 2020   (Click to enlarge)

Eric Segal, Kent Socialist Party

The dilapidated Napier army barracks in Folkestone became the home of 400 asylum seekers five months ago. They are desperate people in fear for their lives. Many have still not even had their asylum claims processed.

Jennifer Blair of human rights charity, Helen Bamber Foundation, said: "Doctors from our charity have assessed camp residents and are seeing a deterioration in people's health and welfare. The longer people are kept in these conditions, the more desperate they are becoming."

With news of a Covid outbreak at the camp, 100 asylum seekers who tested negative were removed. But 180 who tested negative and 120 who tested positive were left behind together, and told to isolate for a further ten days.

Those remaining fear that they are unable to self-isolate, because they are forced to remain in close proximity to each other in the barracks.

The despair and anger at the camp erupted on Friday, causing a major incident. Three fire engines were called to put out a fire in one of the dilapidated blocks.

Police in huge numbers blocked the roads leading to and from the barracks. I was threatened with a Covid fine by the police, while I was trying to report for the Socialist on the desperate situation developing.

The asylum crisis was compounded by recent government plans to end the Dubs agreement to take unaccompanied child asylum seekers. This is undoubtedly due to pressure from local councils like Kent.

The Socialist Party says take the contract for housing asylum seekers out of the hands of private profiteering landlords. Home secretary Priti Patel must resign.

Socialists and trade unionists must counter attempts of racists and the far right to exploit the issue of asylum seekers, and raise the demand for jobs, homes and services for all, not racism. Defend the right to asylum.


Emergency motion

Here is an edited version of an emergency motion Eric has proposed to South East Kent Trades Union Council. Please pass it in your union too.

We call upon the Home Office to immediately close down the Napier barracks in Folkestone - the detention centre housing four hundred asylum-seeking men - due to an outbreak of Covid-19. The Napier barracks is not fit for purpose.

These vulnerable people, who have fled war and torture, must now be moved to safe accommodation where self-isolation and appropriate social distancing is facilitated.

They must have access to medical treatment for their mental and physical health.

Their asylum claims must be processed within an acceptable time frame, and they should have full access to good quality legal advice and representation via legal aid solicitors.

We call on the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and its affiliated unions, to support the campaign to close Napier barracks, and other military sites, where asylum seekers are currently accommodated.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 3 February 2021:


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Launching a political alternative to cuts, poverty and job losses

Why I am attending the TUSC local elections online conference

South Yorks TUSC ready for electoral fight


What we think

Workers' rights and safety: Trade union mobilisation could force more Tory U-turns


News

Socialist Students open letter to Rent Strike network

Children in care: Privatisation is not working

Multimillion-pound rental firm demands thousands from homeless asylum seeker

Covid outbreak at Kent asylum detention centre: Napier is not fit for purpose

New anti-protest law: State forces want more power to crush the protests that are coming


Workplace news

Usdaw conference stripped of democracy by leadership

Usdaw Broad Left rally brings together those campaigning for a fighting union

Strong union lead needed to stop DVLA Covid spread

HMRC: We demand a pay rise without cuts to terms and conditions

Workers fight British Gas 'fire-and-rehire' plans

Vote Steve Hedley for RMT general secretary

The NEU's 'big announcement' - lessons need to be learned

Yorkshire aerospace workers strike against pay disparity

Workplace news in brief


The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto - A guide to understanding society, and how to change it


Rolls-Royce

1971: Rolls-Royce crisis - when the Tories nationalised in order to secure the interests of British capitalism


Readers' opinion

GameStop: Billionaires hurt at their own game

The Socialist Inbox


International news

Covid 'vaccine wars' underline failure of capitalist nation states to deal with the global pandemic


Campaigns news

New members meeting in the South West - preparing for the battles to come

Why I rejoined the Socialist Party

Help us raise the funds to fuel the working-class fightback

Save our square: we need social housing and public services

Stop Labour council's eviction of Stratford Circus arts centre


 

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