The controversial floating asylum center named the Bibby Stockholm has received its first asylum seekers in Portland. The barge, chosen by the government to temporarily house up to 500 men awaiting decisions on their applications, has faced numerous delays and concerns.
Groups were expected to arrive much earlier this summer, but "worries over fire safety and security meant further checks were carried out," according to reports. A local authority whistleblower described the barge's conditions as so hazardous it could become a "floating Grenfell" due to fire risks, noting the barge has only two main exits and allegedly no lifejackets on board.
The government justified using the barge by saying it has housed asylum seekers before in the Netherlands and Germany, along with offshore workers. However, its prior use in the Netherlands around 2008 was marred by tragedy when a man died from cardiac arrest with other residents claiming he lacked proper medical care. They described conditions as "not fit for habitation," marking another instance of issues with the barge.
This time, capacity has greatly expanded with 222 cabins but up to 500 asylum seekers, plus personnel working on board.