After finding Legionella: London defends accommodation of migrants on ship in the English Channel

After finding Legionella: London defends accommodation of migrants on ship in the English Channel

The UK government has defended the accommodation of migrants on a barge off the coast of southern England, even after a legionella finding.

Accommodation for tens of thousands of migrants in hotels costs taxpayers six million pounds a day, Health Secretary Steve Barclay told Sky News on Monday. “It’s important that we comply with safety standards, but also consider the pressure on taxpayers in relation to that six million.”

39 people were taken to the three-story Bibby Stockholm in Portland Harbor last week. Due to legionella levels in the water system, however, they were taken off board after a few days. Conservative politician Barclay said nobody was infected. “So there are no concerns as to who was on the barge.”

A total of up to 500 people are to be accommodated on the “Bibby Stockholm”. It has been criticized as a “floating prison”.

Legionella can cause illnesses ranging from flu-like symptoms to severe pneumonia.

According to the local council, the Ministry of the Interior was informed about the legionella discovery last Monday – the day the first ones were brought on board. On the other hand, the government emphasized that it only found out about it on Thursday.

The accommodation is one of the measures the government is taking to prevent irregular migrants from making the dangerous crossing. But that hardly succeeds – as also shown by the accident at the weekend, in which six Afghans died in the English Channel and dozens had to be rescued from the water.

Afghan author Gulwali Passarlay, based in England, told Britain’s PA news agency: “It is shocking and I am not surprised that this is happening as we continue with the policies of hostility and deterrence and the lack of safe routes and humanitarian corridors.” Government has “blood on their hands”. (dpa)

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