On Thursday the UK Home Office announced new procedures for asylum seekers who refuse to be housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge after the UK High Court upheld the Home Office’s plans to force 39 asylum seekers to return to the barge.The new rules state that if a person refuses the offered asylum on the barge, they will be evicted from their current hotel accommodation within 24 hours and treated like a trespasser if they don’t leave the hotel. Their assigned bed space on the barge will remain available for five working days after the eviction, and they must contact the Home Office during this time to claim their offer of accommodation. If they fail to do so, all support will be discontinued and they will be found to be in “breach of conditions of support,” leaving them without Home Office accommodation or cash support.The return of the migrants to the barge was met with protests by Just Stop Oil, who blocked the bus of asylum-seekers with a banner reading “no prison ships,” and approximately fifty locals who objected to the men being returned to the barge, but also welcomed them. Candy Udwin of Stand Up to Racism Dorset told the BBC she has been in contact with residents of the Bibby Stockholm, “They hate it, they say it feels like a prison, some hate being on the sea, they find it very difficult to leave and they are completely separated from the community.”One person returning to the accommodation told the Guardian:I am worried and afraid. I do not want to go to the barge but I don’t have the courage to disobey. I am literally helpless. I don’t know what is waiting for me. What will the government’s next pilot plans be for the men they are putting on the barge? We feel like pawns in their game, guinea pigs in their experiments. What experiment will they enact on us next?Another anonymous asylum seeker told the BBC:In the hotel we are free to come and go at any time, we are free and (on the barge) we are bound to something – it’s like a prison. It is difficult for all of us and many have said they don’t want to go back.

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