Around half asylum seekers being moved from former airbase

Security warning signs up on new fencing at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltis

Security warning signs up on fencing at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak Picture: Neil Perry / Archant - Credit: Archant

Around half the asylum seekers being held at a former RAF base in north Norfolk are being moved to other parts of the country, it is understood.

The Home Office has housed about 90 asylum seekers in the Jaguar Buildings at RAF Coltishall, and many of them have been there for eight months

One man there, who asked not to be named over fears it would affect his claim for asylum, said "about 40" of the asylum seekers were being moved this week to accommodation in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Leicester and Coventry.

The man, who said he was originally from war-torn South Sudan, said he and about 20 other asylum seekers had carried out a hunger strike for over a week in protest over the conditions there. 

He said the hunger strike had now finished, but they still refused to eat in the on-site cafeteria in protest over the conditions and what they see as a lack of support from the government. 

He said: “We need the government to make a decision on our cases very fast, because we cannot live with this. We wouldn't mind waiting, if the situation was better. I have a lot of stress every day and I can’t really sleep.” 

He said the heater in his bedroom was not working, the food was low quality and they had nothing to do. 

Earlier this month Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, branded the Jaguar Buildings  "unsuitable" for anything other than a short-term emergency stopgap.

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland. Picture: Danielle Booden

Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

The Home Office refused to confirm how many asylum seekers were being housed at Coltishall or how many of them were being moved. 

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A spokesman said the Home Office was required by law to house people seeking asylum, who would otherwise be "destitute with accommodation".

The spokesman said: "During the pandemic, the Home Office has acted quickly to source contingency accommodation to create additional capacity to ensure that our obligations can be met in full.

“We take the wellbeing of asylum seekers extremely seriously and those at Coltishall are staying in safe, Covid-compliant conditions, in line with the law and social distancing requirements.

"They have access to appropriate health care and to Migrant Help, who can provide information about access to legal services.”

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