The UK hosts 500 migrants on a boat in an English port

The British government announced on Wednesday that it will use a barge moored in the port of Portland (southern England) to house 500 asylum seekers, in an effort to cut costs and try to deter illegal crossings of the punch.

Britain’s Home Office highlights an “important step” in Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government’s promise to “stop the boats” on the boats that tens of thousands of migrants arrive on English shores each year, putting the UK’s asylum system under strain.

The Home Office said the barge, named Baby Stockholm, would be able to “accommodate around 500 men while their asylum claims are being processed”.

It will provide “basic and functional facilities”, round-the-clock care and security on board, “to minimize disruption to the local population”.

The government has been heavily criticized for this project recently mentioned by Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, and the government notes that this solution has been used in the Netherlands, but also in Scotland to welcome Ukrainian refugees.

“The use of expensive hotels to house those who take unnecessary and dangerous trips must end,” Robert Jenrick said in a statement on Wednesday. “We will not place the interests of illegal immigrants above those of the Britons we have been elected to serve.”

He added: “We need to use alternative accommodation options, as our European neighbors are doing, including using houseboats and ferries to save UK taxpayers money and prevent the UK from becoming a magnet” for asylum seekers.

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According to the government, the cost of hosting migrants in hotels is six million pounds (6.84 million euros), 2.3 billion pounds (2.6 billion euros) annually.

In December, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he wanted to cut the bill for accommodating asylum seekers in half.

Last week, the government announced that two unused military sites would be used. The project, which has drawn criticism from associations helping asylum seekers and concern from local elected officials, ultimately aims to absorb thousands of migrants.

Last year, a record number of immigrants (more than 45,000) reached English shores by crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The Conservative government intends to discourage irregular migrants from coming to the UK and has made this one of its priorities when successive plans in recent years have failed to stamp out the phenomenon. He also wants to send it to Rwanda, a project that has been put on hold by court decisions.

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