Penally asylum seekers criticise military camp housing

Asylum seekers outside the Penally military training camp

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Some of the group seeking asylum are as young as 17

Asylum seekers being housed in a military training camp said they were shocked by the conditions.

The group of men, from Iraq and Iran, said it was the first time they had been placed in military accommodation since arriving in the UK.

Protests and counter-protests have taken place this month at site in Penally, Pembrokeshire, that could house up to 230 asylum seekers.

“It’s cold and impossible to social distance,” said one of the men.

The group, who did not want to give their names, are aged between 17 and 26 and waiting for their claims to be processed.

One said the UK had “saved” his life after fleeing Iraq, but Penally was the seventh “and worst” location he had been sent to in seven months in the UK.

“It’s not good for human people here,” he said.

“We are not army, we are civic people. We are an engineer, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher.

“It’s very cold and we are six people in a very small room. It is too many. We can’t social distance.”

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Some protesters carried banners reading “migrants and refugees welcome here”

He said the group was “shocked” to be behind barbed wire and high fences.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has criticised the Home Office’s decision to place asylum seekers at the camp, saying it was “unsuitable” for vulnerable people who have “fled terror and suffering”,

One of the group, who said he had fled a war zone, said some of them found being in a military setting distressing.

“He came from war and political fighting and now they put him in an army camp,” he said.

“Being here, he remembers all the things that happened to him. It’s scary.”

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One asylum seeker showed his scars from the war in his home country

Mr Drakeford blamed the Home Office for its handling of the situation, saying his request for a two-week delay for the housing was blocked.

Last week, the Home Office said it was working to find suitable accommodation for asylum seekers, with facilities in the south-east of England under strain.

However, members of the group said they had been told they would be in Penally for a year.

“We don’t have anything against the location, we feel safe, but we are not army,” the man said.

“This is not temporary. Please, we can’t stay here.”

The Home Office has been asked to comment.

BBC News