Wethersfield has been condemned as unsuitable accommodation for refugees by two home secretaries, Priti Patel and James Cleverly, yet it is still in use.
James Cleverly has said he would try to close down the site , which is in his constituency, “as soon as practicable”, but it is still housing hundreds of asylum seekers, many of whom are extremely vulnerable. The refugee charity Care4Calais has launched legal action against the government over its use of the base, which they say is essentially a detention centre and unsuitable for long-term accommodation. There is only one entrance and the isolated facility offers only limited transport to the local town.
The Helen Bamber Foundation discovered that children, survivors of torture and people with severe mental illness are all being held at Wethersfield. Inmates suffer from a variety of conditions, including clinical depression and worsening PTSD. Physical conditions such as TB and scabies have also been noted.
Limited NHS support means that the asylum seekers are now being treated by Medecins Sans Frontieres, an international charity set up to provide emergency medical care to people in disaster and war zones.
An MSF spokesman reported in the Guardian said that the Wethersfield clinic was a joint project with Doctors of the World:
“We know from our extensive work providing medical and humanitarian assistance to people contained in large-scale sites on the Greek islands that these cause serious health-related harm. We have concerns about similar aspects in Wethersfield.”