Asylum seekers: Penally camp residents to leave amid safety row

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Media caption,

Covid: Asylum seeker camp life is 'very bad'

Asylum seekers will be moved out of an ex-army base after a row over camp conditions, the UK government has said.

Up to 250 asylum seekers were housed at the site in Penally, Pembrokeshire, from September, prompting a series of protests by campaigners.

Some housed there have since claimed the conditions are unsafe and they have been put at risk from coronavirus.

Now the Home Office has confirmed they will be moved out "in small numbers" from this week.

Protests and counter-protests had taken place outside the camp, near Tenby, with concerns conditions breach human rights.

In October, First Minister Mark Drakeford described the facility as "unsuitable" for vulnerable people who have "fled terror and suffering".

Others housed at the site also spoke of the conditions were leaving them with psychological trauma.

Image source, Resident photo
Image caption,
Photos taken inside the camp show the living conditions in one of the rooms

Following calls for urgent inspections of the camp, Home Office minister Chris Philp said he hoped those living at the site would start to be moved "as soon as reasonably practical".

"It remains our intention to move all individuals in contingency accommodation into suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical," Mr Philp said.

"We are hoping to commence moves for small numbers of people out from week commencing 18 January, however our immediate priority is to ensure that we continue to meet our legal duty to house destitute asylum seekers and ensure their safety and wellbeing."

Video footage and photographs of the camp, seen by BBC Wales, appeared to show bathroom floors covered with water, every toilet in one bathroom blocked and beds in communal rooms positioned less than 2m (6ft) apart.

While some have welcomed the refugees, posting welcome notes outside the gates, the camp has been described as a target for "hard-right extremist" protesters in recent months.