Just Stop Oil delays refugees from being detained on the Bibby Stockholm

Just Stop Oil supporters temporarily blocked the coach transporting asylum seekers to the Bibby Stockholm barge, docked at the Isle of Portland in Dorset.

At 12.45pm today, 23 people blocked traffic on Portland Beach Road, before moving in front of the coach carrying people who are seeking asylum in the UK. A banner that read ‘No Prison Ships’ was unfurled in front of the coach and ‘Demand Humanity’ at the back. Just Stop Oil supporters in the road were repeatedly driven into, resulting in them leaving the carriageway for their own safety. Three have been arrested.

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said:

“We know that our government’s plan for new oil and gas is going to lead to more people being displaced from their homes. Forced from where they have lived for generations due to the actions of our failing politicians. People coming to the UK must be met with common humanity, and not housed in prison ships. This is a slide towards concentration camps and we will not let it happen, not on our watch. We are taking action today to show love and solidarity with all people coming to this country.

Responding to displaced people with cruel schemes like Bibby Stockholm, the Rwanda plan, or filthy barrack housing is not a solution. The best way to prevent people from being forced out of their homelands is to stop our governments from planning and implementing climate disasters, while protecting people’s right to move and seek safety. The first step is stopping new oil and gas”

Merseyside Solidarity Knows No Borders stated:

“Just as the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Gaza, we call for justice, human rights and adherence to international law in Israel, in Gaza, in the UK, all over the world. We call upon Bibby Marine to cease profiting from human misery and to pull out of their contract with the Home Office to lease the Bibby Stockholm for use as a prison ship.”

Reclaim the Seas stated:

“Seeking asylum is not a crime – it is a human right enshrined in international law. Yet this government wants to treat people coming to our shores seeking safety as criminals, forcing them onto a cramped, dangerous, floating prison-barge. As an organisation working closely with people seeking asylum who have experienced trauma at sea, we deplore the Bibby Stockholm. It is performative cruelty against a vulnerable group, and we believe it is necessary to take action to prevent people from being put through even more trauma on their journeys to seek safety.”

On August 2nd, Ben Selby, Assistant General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union wrote to Suella Braverman stating the opposition held by the FBU against the Bibby Stockholm, comparing it to the Grenfell tragedy in terms of danger:

We are concerned about the risks of a large floating structure used to accommodate asylum seekers in long-term housing… We have substantial expertise, including from earlier disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire and the subsequent public inquiry. We are concerned above all to prevent another tragedy and to guarantee public safety.” [1]

He later remarked “Firefighters believe the Bibby Stockholm to be a potential deathtrap”. [2]

Supporters of Just Stop Oil took action as a result of an open letter written by the first residents of the Bibby Stockholm, explaining the dire state of the accommodation and requesting “support and unity”. [3] [4]

On October 25th at 7:00PM there will be a public talk hosted by Just Stop Oil. Speakers including Asad Rehman (War On Want) and Tara Povey (Refugee Action) will lead a discussion on climate and migrant justice. Just Stop Oil supporters will discuss their experiences of taking part in nonviolent civil resistance. Sign up here

In November we are calling for daily marches in London until the government comes to its senses and stops new oil. We call on everyone to join us in civil resistance. Sign up for action here: https://juststopoil.org/take-action/

On November 18th there will be a NO PRISON SHIPS bloc at the People VS Oil mass march.​​​​​​​

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Notes to editors

In addition to Just Stop Oil’s existing demand that the government stops all new UK fossil fuel projects the campaign is also calling for safe routes and housing for people coming to the UK.

This action was supported by advocacy groups including the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Stop Deportations, Reclaim the Sea, and Merseyside Solidarity Knows No Borders.

[1] https://www.paih.org/Mired-in-controversy-Bibby-Stockholm-asylum-barge-is-potential-deathtrap-say-fire-officers

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/aug/01/bibby-stockholm-asylum-barge-is-potential-deathtrap-say-firefighters

[3] https://www.facebook.com/PortlandGlobalFriendshipGroup/posts/pfbid02wT1zmxeiTN4EBTvzV7yC87HnuhhP9tqutKWwUe4reQrCKDf4433manzHWd5djJMjl

[4] A cohort of 39 Asylum Seekers boarded the Bibby Stockholm on the 7th of August, 2023 – on the 11th August they were evacuated after traces of the deadly legionella virus were discovered on board the ship. By this time, residents had already become sick. In the five days they were on board, one individual was driven to suicide by the conditions on the Bibby Stockholm.