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UK government 'considered buying' Qatar's fan cabins to house migrants

Home Office had to abandon its plan, and talks broke down as the fan cabins were considered 'too low quality'
Cabins at the Al-Emadi fan village in Doha ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, 9 November 2022 (AFP)

The UK's Home Office considered buying Qatar's World Cup fan cabins to house migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the country from across the English Channel, The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

However, the plan was abandoned and talks broke down as the fan cabins were deemed "too low quality".

Since January, at least 45,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats to the British shore, leaving the UK Home Office with many migrants to process and arrange accommodation for.

According to the newspaper the Daily Telegraph, the Home Office considered buying the "fan cabins," which were specially made to house world cup fans during the tournament, as an optional accommodation for migrants. 

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Qatar unveiled in November several fan villages, which were built to host some of the one million fans who travelled to the country to attend the World Cup, which ended last weekend.

Some of these villages had 6,000 cabins built on a car park site near Doha's international airport. 

During the World Cup, some cabins cost around £170 a night, with some fans reporting that the temperature could reach 37 degrees celsius inside them, and complaining that they looked like shipping containers.

Other fans had highlighted faulty air-conditioning and leaky lavatories in the cabins.

A Home Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph that "the number of people arriving in the UK who seek asylum and require accommodation has reached record levels, placing unprecedented pressures on the asylum system.

"It is right that the Government explores a range of options to ensure we are providing safe, appropriate accommodation for the people we are responsible for," the spokesman added.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, confirmed on Wednesday that the government was searching for alternatives to hotels, including using disused cruise ships, military sites, and holiday parks.

Currently, the UK spends £5.5 million daily to house over 40,000 migrants in hotels, while in neighbouring France, only half of the asylum seekers are provided accommodation by the government, with the rest of the migrants living in makeshift camps.

Migration Watch, an NGO monitoring the migrant crisis in Britain, told The Daily Telegraph that "the UK's overly permissive asylum rules are an outlier compared with most of Europe and are adding to the powerful magnet that draws thousands of asylum rejects from all over Europe across the Channel in dangerous boat trips".

A Home Office report said that for migrants living in makeshift camps in France, "life is often uncertain and precarious, with camp clearances and forced evictions that can lead to damage and confiscation of personal belongings and reported police brutality and abusive practices".

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