PROTESTS have been held at Penally camp today, November 11, with is asylum seeker residents comparing it to a prison.

The former MoD camp has housed up to 250 asylum seekers since September, after being repurposed by the Home Office.

The conditions are described by the men at the camp: “We are camp residents, we live in very difficult conditions in very cold weather. The camp is very old and dilapidated and not intended for asylum seekers and refugees.

“The large number of asylum seekers inside the camp prevent us from social distancing and avoiding coronavirus. There are six to eight people in a small room without any privacy.

“Facilities like showers and toilets are far away and we need to walk long distances in the rain and stormy weather to reach them. We wait for a long time in line to get meals in the rain and there is a lack of access to health care. The problem was exacerbated by the recent lockdown.

“We demand that we be moved to housing. Refugees should not be placed in old military camps.”

A Stand Up to Racism West Wales statement, supported by TUC Wales, Unite Community Wales and FBU Cymru, read: “The ex-military camp at Penally Pembrokeshire, now housing up to 240 male asylum seekers, is a completely unsuitable home for vulnerable people fleeing war and oppression.

“Although the men can leave the camp in small numbers between 10am and 10pm, the camp is effectively being used as a detention centre or, as the men call it, a prison.

“We believe that to be completely unacceptable and we call on the Home Office to close the camp and transfer the men to comfortable and suitable homes. The conditions in the camp are appalling and are an immediate threat to both physical and mental health.”

Since its inception as a site for asylum seekers the camp has sparked protests, and has seen angry scenes as asylum seeker protestors clashed with police.

The decision to site the asylum seekers at the camp has drawn the ire of people nationally, including founder of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson.

UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton has said that both the UK and Welsh governments had failed the people of Pembrokeshire over the use of the camp for asylum seekers, who he described as 'illegal immigrants'.

Speaking about recent protests held about the asylum seekers being based at Penally, Stand Up to Racism West Wales added: “It is not acceptable for the far-right to attempt to exploit the suffering of refugees for their own racist agenda, and we condemn their presence at Penally Camp. Nor is it acceptable for Wales, as a nation of sanctuary, to be used by the UK Home Office as a site for inhumane and unacceptable accommodation for asylum seekers.

“We will work to ensure that Wales remains a nation of sanctuary, and that refugees are welcome in Wales.”