Scores of activists gathered for a mass protest yesterday in Cornwall over a giant barge set to house 500 migrants – as ministers hint at more vessels in the future.
The Bibby Stockholm arrived in Falmouth on May 10 and is undergoing renovations before it goes into service next month.
Once it is refitted, it will be re-berthed in Portland harbour in Dorset where it will be used to accommodate male asylum seekers.
Local groups including Cornwall Resists, Divest Borders Falex, Falmouth and Penryn Welcomes Refugees, Radical Pride and Reclaim the Sea joined forces to denounce the Home Office scheme, Cornwall Live reports.
The groups gathered outside the dry dock where the ship is being refitted and waved banners carrying slogans such as ‘no floating prisons’, ‘shame on Suella’ and ‘don’t work for torture corporations’.
A spokesperson for Cornwall Resists stated: ‘We are so proud of all the groups coming together to oppose the Bibby Stockholm being refitted in our town, and to say loudly and clearly that Cornwall welcomes refugees.
‘This is what community action looks like and shows we will not be passive while our harbour is being used to facilitate the abuse of those seeking sanctuary on our shores.’
A statement from Reclaim the Sea added: ‘Many asylum seekers and people on the move have experienced sea-related trauma on one or multiple occasions. To house them in a floating prison barge risks re-traumatising people who are already vulnerable and deserve our solidarity and support, not hate and hostility.’
The Bibby Stockholm barge will provide ‘basic and functional accommodation’ as well as healthcare and catering facilities when it is berthed at Portland in Dorset, according to the Home Office.
The port of Portland also welcomes more than 40 cruise ships over the course of the year and usually advertises arrival and departure dates on its website to help residents and local businesses plan for busy periods.
Read More: Barge set to hold 500 migrants is inspected as activists leave cardboard signs calling for ‘no borders, no nations’