'I don't see any future': Asylum seekers share their fears about returning to Bibby Stockholm

The government is still committed to putting asylum seekers on the barge but the problems keep on coming, ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports

Asylum seekers who were among the first onboard the Bibby Stockholm have told ITV West Country that the experience damaged their mental health and that they are afraid to return.

One person, who said he escaped persecution in the Middle East and who did not want to be named for fear of jeopardising his asylum claims, said he "can't see a future" for himself and that the experience has affected him "psychologically and mentally".

He told ITV West Country: "With the things I can see happening to me, I either end up in a, you know, I end up in a madhouse, or I might even lose my life. I don't see any future."

He added: "We all endure a lot. This is going to stay with us, and the Government doesn't think that after a while we're going to go back to society.

"We're going to live with people and obviously this is going to be really difficult for us."

The facilities on the Bibby Stockholm. Credit: PA

He and others were among the 39 people removed from the barge last month after legionella bacteria was found in the water - a bacteria which can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.

He also said he believes the barge is "not safe," and that it cannot hold 500 people.

The Fire Brigades Union has also previously raised concerns about the vessel's safety, labelling it a "potential death trap".

Home Secretary Suellla Braverman however, has said she is "very confident that this barge is safe for human habitation."

It comes after a three-page letter was sent to Ms Braverman from the asylum seekers outlining how conditions onboard were so bad that one was driven to attempt suicide.

The barge has faced a number of legal challenges, including those from refugee charities representing migrant interests and over whether the government secured appropriate planning permissions.

However, despite these challenges, the government still plans to accommodate migrants on the barge.

One asylum seeker said they have been threatened with effectiveness homelessness if they refuse to board the barge.

One man said: "The only thing we were informed, was that we have to return to the Bibby Stockholm, and we were told with a threatening tone that if you refuse to go back to the Bibby Stockholm, all your services and facilities will be cut."

Another person, who also did not want to be named for fear of jeopardising his asylum claims, said he felt like a criminal when he was onboard and felt let down by the Home Office.

He said: "The truth is, I had one big issue in my country. My life was at risk, and I was lucky I could escape and save my life.

"But, the thing is, every day here, I face a different challenge."

People carry bags as they board the Bibby Stockholm barge. Credit: PA

The men have said Bibby Stockholm was not what they were told it would be.

"We were told that there would be English classes, other classes, there would be a gym, you could do activities there, but when we went there it was totally different," one man told ITV West Country.

The government has said the Bibby Stockholm will be used again shortly.

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