After finding Legionella bacteria in the water supply, the government of the United Kingdom (UK) announced on Friday that it had evicted refugees and migrants from a residential barge less than a week after they moved in.
As part of its high-profile campaign to prevent asylum seekers from landing in the country, the United Kingdom started transferring some people onto the big Bibby Stockholm barge on its southern coast at the beginning of the week.
Human rights activists called the offer “inhumane,” while politicians defended it as a necessary cost-cutting measure to provide only “basic” housing. “Environmental samples from the water system on the Bibby Stockholm [barge] have shown levels of legionella bacteria which require further investigation,” a Home Office official stated.
UK removes 39 refugees
All 39 asylum seekers who boarded the ship this week are being removed “as a precaution” until authorities conduct further investigations. Over the next few weeks, additional people were scheduled to move into the enormous, grey, three-story barge’s more than 200 bedrooms.
Legionnaires’ disease, an uncommon but “very serious” lung infection, can be caused by the bacteria found in the barge’s water supply. The government stated that no passengers had shown any signs of the sickness, and that it was working closely with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and taking its recommendations in accordance with public health standards.
The decision capped off a week in which the administration had been making statements about its efforts to minimize the number of asylum seekers in anticipation of a general election scheduled for the following year.
Even though Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made it a priority to crack down on irregular migration, his plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda has met into legal hurdles.
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