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Following the discovery of hazardous bacteria in the ship's water, asylum seekers departed the contentious UK barge
By Sea and Coast | 14/08/2023
In London After harmful bacteria were discovered in the water supply, dozens of refugees are being removed from a contentious offshore barge that Britain was using as temporary housing for asylum seekers.
The U.K. Home Office confirmed in a statement that the legionella bacterium, which can cause symptoms that resemble pneumonia, was found in the water system on board the Bibby Stockholm ship. 
The Home Office announced that all 39 asylum seekers currently living on the boat would be relocated while the risks there are still being evaluated. A spokeswoman stated, "The health and welfare of those on the ship is our biggest priority."
However, the Home Office was unable to confirm the location of the refugees' new homes, and a charity official told POLITICO that the immigrants were kept in the dark about their relocation for hours.
After the news surfaced, Heather Jones of the Portland Global Friendship Group, a support organization that works with migrants, said she received terrified texts and calls from inhabitants of Bibby Stockholm, one of whom asked her to contact his family "in case anything happens to him." The bacterial epidemic, according to Jones, was "not surprising" because the project had experienced "disaster after disaster" since its inception.
The National Health Service estimates that 1 in 10 individuals who catch Legionnaires' disease die from it, although the Home Office reported that there have been no verified occurrences of the sickness.
After weeks of delays, the first migrants were finally transported onto the ship on Monday. Additional safety inspections were made all past weekend.
The Fire Brigades Union expressed misgivings about the idea, labeling the barge as a "potential death trap," yet the U.K. government persisted with it.
The Home Office estimates that keeping asylum seekers in hotels costs the tax payers £2.3 billion annually, therefore there is pressure on ministers to find an alternative.
The Bibby Stockholm is "safe and decent lodging," according to Alex Chalk, the UK justice secretary, who made the statement on Tuesday.