Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

Moment migrants protest outside asylum centre as they moan they have ‘no WiFi’

Essex: Refugees protest outside asylum centre

Footage shows asylum seekers protesting outside the Essex military base being used to process their claims to stay in Britain.

A group of hooded men can be seen shouting “wrong plan, wrong place”, as they stand outside the gates of MDP Wethersfield in Finchingfield in the rain.

The slogan has been co-opted from the Fields Association – the local group campaigning against the asylum centre.

This protest isn’t the first, as the new occupants of the former RAF airbase have complained about the lack of WiFi and temperature inside the accommodation facility.

Chairman of the Fields Association, Tony Clarke-Holland, told that the asylum centre is a blight on the quaint village, an hour-and-a-half outside London, and that it is “creaking at the seams”.

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At present, the number of migrants on the old airbase is around 550, which is around 150 less than the population of Wethersfield. However when the base is at capacity – around 1,700 – asylum seekers will outnumber local residents by more than two to one.

Explaining the most recent protest, he said: “The asylum seekers came outside and blocked the road. Really, the only people that were affected were us residents.”

Repeating the complaints of the occupants of the centre, Mr Clarke-Holland said: “’It’s like a prison here, we’ve got no medicine, we’ve got no wifi, we’ve got no blankets, we’ve got no water’. I mean, you name it, it was on the list.

“Now the reality is, I’ve been over there because the Home Office have been taking groups of local people, businesses or the Fields Association, over there to show what it’s like. It’s like portacabin city over there. It’s quite huge.”

Asylum seeker talks about health and accommodation

The local campaigner said other Wethersfield residents had been shown inside the portacabins. Recounting what they claim to have seen he said: “It’s warm, they’ve got duvets, it’s clean. They’ve got a little medical centre, it’s not brilliant, it’s a portacabin, but you know, they’ve got one.”

He said given the allegedly wartorn countries the asylum seekers had fled from, their complaints about the Government’s hospitality left a sour taste: “Whether I agree or I don’t agree with the asylum seekers, I sit there and think actually, if you are an asylum seeker and you really have come from a treacherous situation, surely you’d be thinking ‘ok, this is not ideal, but it’s peace and it’s quiet, I’ve got no security worries, I’ve got some food, it’s warm.’

“So I struggle a little bit to get my head around it. One of the guys even said ‘we haven’t got enough sugar’ and I thought ‘really?’.”

The Wethersfield campaigner, whose son took the Home Office to court over the conversion of the airbase into an asylum centre, explained that when the protest was in full flow he attempted to drive down the country lane away from his property.

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He said: “I followed my neighbour down and just sat there for 15 minutes while they were all in the road.

“There were three police [officers], two police cars, trying to push these guys in and let us through. There was someone coming up the lane, someone going out [and] all the rest.

“It’s ridiculous. In the end they escorted myself and my neighbour through the base… because I couldn’t get down the lane… and out the other exit.”

In a separate video, taken from the same scene, one asylum seekers can be heard saying: “We just need better accommodation.”

Another says: “Since from four months, we haven’t [had] contact with our family because of internet. We don’t have money, actually, to buy something.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The welfare of individuals at the site is of the utmost priority.

“The Home Office is committed to ending the expensive use of hotels for asylum seekers and working with local authorities to enact the changes. We are working closely to listen to the local communities’ views and reduce the impact of these sites, including through providing onsite security and financial support.”

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