By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter
A hotel has begun rehousing its almost 300 male refugee residents following allegations of rape and poor conditions rife within the hotel.
Male residents at the hotel in Crystal Palace housing asylum seekers have been given the ultimatum of moving into a double room with another refugee or being relocated to another hotel near Heathrow.
More than 450 refugees have been housed at the hotel since late 2021 while they wait for their asylum claims to be processed.
Recent reports of the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl and sexual assaults made by 17 different hotel staff members have forced the hotel’s owner, Clearsprings to act. Clearsprings run the hotel on behalf of the Home Office.
Adam Yasir, Croydon resident and co-chair of the Croydon Refugee and New Communities Forum, has been supporting those living at the hotel for a number of years.
He said: “Putting two men in one room increases the risks to vulnerable groups that we already have.
“Some of the men who have said they don’t want to go have been threatened with relocation, and those who have complied have been put in these rooms. This maximisation policy from the hotel is making them more money.
“About twenty have been moved since Friday. A lot of them as you can imagine have ties to the area. This could be receiving counselling or visiting a local GP. Some of them will also be going to colleges nearby.
“When I spoke to some of the people that this has affected last week, I felt really bad for them as they should not have been in this place to begin with.
“Some of them have said they can’t get to Croydon and back to get the evidence from the counsellor and mental health specialists they need because they only get £8.24 a week.
“Being moved into an industrial area in West Drayton will not help their mental health. To be honest, I don’t believe all 300 men will even get the choice.”
Campaigners like Mr Yasir have frequently complained to both Croydon council and the Home Office about the conditions at the Crystal Palace hotel. They have previously described the rooms as being like a prison cell and have criticised the local authority for not adequately providing adequate accommodation to their local vulnerable residents.
Mr Yasir added: “We would like the hotel to be downsized or shut to refugees completely, so people can be housed adequately.”
When approached for comment, a representative from the Home Office said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and at every stage in the process – from initial arrival, to any potential relocations – our approach is to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of asylum seekers are identified and considered.
“We continue to provide safe accommodation for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, as we work to end the use of hotels which are costing UK taxpayers £8.2million a day.”
A Croydon council spokesman said: “We are actively working with the Home Office and local partners to ensure that vulnerable people in the hotel are protected.”
Clearsprings did not respond to a request for comment.
Pictured top: A small box room in the hotel (Picture: Adam Yasir)
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