Conditions at ex-RAF Wethersfield base 'like a prison', claims asylum seeker

  • Hear from an asylum seeker living at the Wethersfield base

An asylum seeker being housed at a former RAF base has told ITV News the conditions are "like a prison", with food so bad it has made him sick.

The man, who is not being named for his own safety, escaped his home country in Africa to “save my life”, he said.

“When I arrived, I was happy because I come here for safety and I want to live with freedom. I risked my life. I want to live in safe country,” he told ITV News. 

The Home Office, which has a legal obligation to provide accommodation to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, said the site met its legal requirements and people were free to come and go. 

One asylum seeker told ITV News Anglia that they are treated 'badly' Credit: ITV News Anglia

The man was taken to Wethersfield in Essex shortly after arriving in the UK in a small boat earlier this year.

He said: “It’s like a prison. The place is not good for us. 

“I escaped all of this to come here. To have freedom and safety. To save my life.

"We came to live with a community, with a social life, and we want to be safe. But it's not in Wethersfield now.”

In an interview with ITV News Anglia, the man complains about the food, saying it is so bad it has made him sick, and claims he and others no longer eat dinner.

He says the asylum seekers are treated badly, adding that medical help is hard to get late at night, and the site is not clean. 

His comments follow a hunger strike that was staged in September over complaints about conditions at the base, as well as protests outside the site following complaints about a reported lack of medicine, blankets and clothing.

The decision to open the site has come under fire in recent months, with the now-Home Secretary and MP for the area, James Cleverly, having previously expressed concerns over the area's remoteness. 

The government said large sites such as Wethersfield were essential to reducing the cost of hotel accommodation where many asylum seekers had been housed.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We do not recognise the allegations being made.

"There  is onsite primary health care provision, regular transport offsite and food that meets NHS Eatwell standards, catering for all cultural and dietary requirements.”

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