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Activists protest barge set to hold 500 migrants, leaving banners

Barge set to hold 500 migrants is inspected as activists leave cardboard signs calling for ‘no borders, no nations’ ahead of the vessel housing asylum seekers while their claims are processed

  • Activists protested against the Bibby Stockholm barge in Falmouth, Cornwall 
  • The barge – which is set to house 500 male asylum seekers – is being refitted 

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’.

The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge undergoes refurbishments in a dry dock in Falmouth, Cornwall, yesterday

‘No borders, no nations, no deportations’: Banners are left by protestors above the dry dock where the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge is being inspected

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.

People gather at Penndennis Rise in Falmouth to protest the Bibby Stockholm ship

The ship is set to house 500 migrants in Portland Port, Dorset, once it has completed its renovation

‘Where is our empathy? Bibby Stockholm not welcome here,’ was graffitied to a wall

Banners left by protesters challenged the Home Office’s plans for the Bibby Stockholm barge

There will also be round-the-clock security on board to ‘minimise the disruption to local communities’.

However, the Government is facing stiff local opposition to positioning the Bibby Stockholm at a popular beauty spot.

This is despite suggestions that local councils could be paid up to £3,500 per migrant to accept barges in their ports.

There has also been a backlash from charities and human rights campaigners who say the accommodation is not fit for people fleeing war.

The barge includes a gym, games room and bar. It also has ‘delicious, nutritious food’ in its restaurant and Wi-Fi throughout the ship.

The barge, operated by Liverpool-based Bibby Marine, can house up to 506 people in 222 en-suite bedrooms.

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