Asylum Seekers Stage Hunger Strike over Quality of Free Hotel Food

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Abdul Safi, an Afghan asylum seeker, is joined by fellow Afghani’s as he hunger strikes outside the Home Office building on September 23, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr Safi has stitched his lips together and gone on hunger strike in a last-ditch attempt to get …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A group of asylum seekers being housed at the expense of the British taxpayer in a Reading hotel have staged a hunger strike, protesting against the quality of the free food they are given.

One of the migrants leading the strike, Salahe Lakhdar, claimed that the food was unhealthy and the portions too small, leading to some of the migrants losing weight.

Lakhdar, who said he has been staying in the hotel for three months, told Sky News: “These people have been living in the hotel for nine months without going anywhere, without seeing any family, without seeing friends, without doing any activities.

“We know it’s bad for everyone, for UK residents, and we respect that and we wish them the very best and we hope this time passes soon — but it’s very bad for these people as well,” he suggested.

The 24-year-old migrant claimed some in the hotel have experienced medical issues as a result of the food, alleging that “many people” have gone to the hospital as a result of the food.

Lakhdar said he wants “some sign” from the government that their supposed plight has been heard, and that their asylum claims will be progressed.

Another unnamed migrant, who is staying in the hotel with her daughter said: “It’s been miserable… she hasn’t eaten healthy food for over five months — no vegetables, no fresh milk, no cheese, no egg, no fish. Imagine a kid who is growing and needs all this protein and calcium — she doesn’t get any of this.”

“For the first time in my whole life I’ve had suicidal thoughts… and there are so many suicidal people in the same place,” she added — suggesting her previous circumstances cannot have been that desperate.

Clearsprings Ready Homes, a firm that services migrant detention centres said that “Clearsprings ensures that where required, three meals a day are provided.

“The food service provided by our suppliers is reviewed on a regular basis to ensure what is provided meets the required standards and that feedback from our asylum seekers is taken into account as part of that review.”

In July, Brexit leader Nigel Farage uncovered the fact that the government has been housing illegal migrants in hotels during the Chinese coronavirus crisis, amid record-breaking waves of illegal boat migration.

Mr Farage later embarrassed the government after revealing that one of the migrant hotels was in Home Secretary Priti Patel’s own constituency.

Aside from the financial cost of housing migrants — expected to total at least  £4 billion over the coming years— the hotel housing scheme has had some violent consequences.

In June, a Sudanese migrant went on a stabbing spree inside his Glasgow hotel, wounding six people, including a police officer, David Whyte, who was critically injured.

The attacker, Badreddin Abadlla Adam, had also reportedly complained about the free food he was provided, which sometimes consisted of spaghetti or macaroni and cheese, which was deemed not to be “culturally appropriate” by local activists.

Migrants have long complained about the free accommodation provided to them by the British taxpayer. In September, a group of illegal Sudanese migrants complained about their housing at a converted British Army barracks, telling the media that they “wished they stayed in France“.

Others have staged violent protests and hunger strikes at the camp.

In January, a group of five asylum seekers were arrested in connection with an arson attack on the facility.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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