TWENTY ‘vulnerable’ asylum seekers from Penally Camp have been transferred to alternative accommodation, it has been reported this week.

The move for the men comes amidst repeated calls for the residents of the former Ministry of Defence facility to be housed elsewhere because of poor living conditions, with two public protests last week.

“Men housed at the camp are, understandably, becoming increasingly desperate and it is likely that a serious incident will occur unless urgent action is taken,” said a spokesperson for a law firm representing some of the asylum seekers.

She continued: “The Home Office asserts that only men with no known vulnerabilities are intended to be accommodated at Penally Camp.

“We have brought the serious vulnerabilities of our clients to the attention of the Home Office. Their response to date has been to transfer 20 men to alternative accommodation.

“We cannot, and should not have to, make transfer requests on behalf of every person housed at the camp for the Home Office to recognise that this is unacceptable accommodation.”

She described the decision by the Home Office to house the asylum seekers at the camp as 'unprecedented', and added:

“Many of our clients at the camp are victims of torture, trafficking and/or have serious medical conditions.

"The majority of them were accommodated in London before they were woken up in the middle of the night and put on a bus to Wales with no warning or information about where they were being taken.

"They are now living in a prison-like environment and while the Home Office describes it as ‘short term accommodation’, many we have spoken to have been there for over three months and are exhausted and traumatised.

"We continue to invite the Secretary of State for the Home Department to provide accommodation to asylum seekers which meets basic standards of human decency.”

Last week, Minister for Immigration Compliance Chris Philp said:

“We provide asylum seekers in Penally with safe, Covid-compliant and weather-proof accommodation along with free nutritious meals, all paid for by the taxpayer.

"They can contact a 24/7 helpline if they have any issues. We are also happy to help them return to their home country where possible.

The independent chief inspector for borders and immigration David Bolt said he hoped an inspection can begin 'within a few weeks' and was awaiting further details he requested from the Home Office.

This has been welcomed by Penally's county councillor, Jon Preston, who said that he would also be seeking support for a public enquiry.

Cllr Preston added: "It is becoming increasingly evident that the Home Office do not have a robust legal case for the repurposing of Penally Camp.

"The Welsh government Councel General has himself stated that the legal basis on which the Home Office has acted remains unclear.

"A planning application involving a public consultation remains to be submitted, giving rise to additional concerns over how the Home Office may proceed.

"Immigration is not devolved to Welsh government, so it remains a matter for Westminster government to address."

The Home Office has been asked to comment further.