UK’s Plan To House Asylum Seekers In Cruise Ship Fails

Controversial plans for housing asylum seekers on redundant cruise vessels have been thrown into disarray after two ships could not find a place to dock. Some tentative reported plans were for the cruise vessels to be housed in the Wirral, in London, and outside Edinburgh, but the proposals were rebuffed. Sky News further reported that two vessels have also been returned to their prior owners following their acquisitions by the government.

Stephen Kinnock, the shadow immigration minister, informed the broadcaster that had overseen the asylum backlog increase nine-fold on their watches and the cost skyrockets to £3.6 billion, they are currently trying to shift to another plan that has not yet been thought through — spending money on boats that do not have a place to dock.

Video Credit: @thesun/ youtube

A Home Office spokesperson mentioned that it would continue looking at other options to use such an accommodation with ports, suppliers, and relevant local authorities. The Wirral port operator declined to permit the vessel to dock amidst local opposition. At the same time, Cammy Day, the leader of Edinburgh council, last month highlighted his opposition to a “floating prison” for asylum seekers.

However, a barge that houses nearly 500 asylum seekers could anchor on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. There were a few ill-tempered scenarios as the rival protesters quarreled, but both sides opposed the vessel’s arrival. Pro-migrant groups strongly believe these vessels are inhumane, whereas the opposing faction seemed motivated by nimbyism and xenophobia. Significant opposition had been to housing asylum seekers off the Merseyside shore.

Officials at Wirral council had written to the Home Office and set out a range of concerns and queries while it had complained of receiving few details about the scheme. Protesters queued outside a Peel Ports meeting at a hotel based in Liverpool in June, calling on the firm not to permit the boat, which could have housed over 1,00 individuals, to moor. Mick Whitley, the Birkenhead MP, informed the BBC in April that he was outraged by the failure of the Home Office to consult with the local authority, service providers, and MPs meaningfully.

A spokesperson associated with Peel Ports told the local press that they have been clear from the outset that any deal to accommodate a vessel for refugees in Birkenhead will need the local agencies’ willing participation and 100% collaboration. They have seen the model work over the last year as they extended a berth for a vessel accommodating some refugees in Glasgow. Per reports from The Telegraph, the port had planned against the move amid opposition from the council.

In June 2023, Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, outlined his “strongest possible” opposition to the plans. He said that he was proud of London’s history of offering sanctuary for individuals seeking refuge and that he is concerned that these vulnerable people fleeing appalling situations wouldn’t have access to the support they require, with their health, safety, and wellbeing put at risk.

On Monday, the government faced opposition in the House of Lords to controversial plans that would prevent individuals from claiming asylum in the UK if they reached using unauthorized ways. The proposed legislation is poised to become law now. The government hopes these changes will ensure that the detained people are removed from their home nation or another third country like Rwanda, a plan subject to legal challenges.

Reference: Tele Graph, The Guardian, News Sky

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