Refugees have written to home secretary Suella Braverman (Picture: No 10 Downing Street/Flickr)

The 39 refugees kept on the Tories’ prison-barge have said conditions were so bad that one was driven to attempt suicide. They’ve written a letter to home secretary Suella Braverman sharing their distress at being on the Bibby Stockholm in Portland, Dorset.

They called it “an unsafe, frightening and isolated place” and a “place of exile” and that they’re too traumatised to return. Authorities removed  the refugees after less than a week following a Legionella bacteria outbreak. Rishi Sunak dodged questions about the attempted suicide by saying, “the plan is working”. 

In the letter a refugees wrote, “In a tragic incident one of the asylum seekers attempted suicide but we acted promptly and prevented this unfortunate event. 

“Currently we are ­staying in an old and abandoned hotel. The sense of isolation and loneliness has taken over us and psychological and emotional pressures have increased significantly.

“We are individuals who are tired of the challenges that have arisen and no longer have the strength to face them.” One Iranian refugee said he developed stomach pains on the barge and felt dizzy but “was too scared to refuse to get on.”

“Being on the barge made us feel like criminals and second-class citizens.

“We’re all feeling very upset, but are even more upset that the Home Office wants to return us to the horror show”.  

No one told the refugees about the legionella bacteria in the water or warned them of the dangers of the disease. The Fire Brigades Union this week also wrote to Braverman outlining “serious fire and operational safety concerns” over the barge that can hold up to 506 refugees.

The FBU says no one should be returned and raised concerns over failure to arrange fire drills, evacuation points or risk assessments. It has threatened the Home Office with legal action.

The Home Office ­previously refused to discuss with the FBU concerns over narrow corridors, fire exits, and has increased the boat’s capacity.

And the Home Office may also fit refugees with electronic tags if they arrive by small boats across the Channel. The Tories’ plan is to deport anyone who comes to Britain without official documentation to Rwanda or a third country. 

But with the Rwanda scheme being held up in the courts, the Braverman’s “dreams” of removing refugees have been paused. 

When asked whether the Tories would consider ­tagging, Braverman said, “We already do it.”

More than 175,00 people waited for an initial decision on their asylum application at the end of June—44 percent higher than the same period last year.  And the highest since records began in 2010.

And there was a 57 ­percent increase in the number of people waiting more than six months for a decision.

Braverman said she intends to pursue “a ­programme of increasing immigration-detention capacity”, which includes disused RAF bases and barges.

She said the Tories will do “whatever it takes” to stop the boats. And insisted the “death trap” Bibby Stockholm was safe for refugees. Their plan isn’t to cut costs but to make life in Britain so miserable that refugees will be put off from coming.

Anti-racist fightback

the Tories are holding their annual conference in Manchester from Sunday 1 October—and Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) is calling a national demonstration against them.

The People’s Assembly has also called a protest on the day.  On Saturday 21 October, SUTR is holding its annual conference, entitled “Resisting the rise of racism and fascism”. 

Held in central London and online, the conference will discuss the Tories’ policies and how anti-racists are fighting back.

It will also discuss against new racist laws affecting migrants, black people, Muslims and Gypsy, Roma and Travellers.

The conference will also look into institutional racism, from schools to the police and the justice system.

For tickets and information, go to


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