Asylum seekers who were held on the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port for four days in August say that the barge feels "like a prison" and that they "want to live like ordinary people", as they await a return to the barge which Ministers say is "imminent".

Currently in a hotel in the South West, the men say that the prospect of returning to the barge is having a severe impact on their mental and physical health.

They are questioning why it is taking so long for their asylum claims to be heard.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of asylum seekers

Braham*, like many others who were housed on the barge, comes from a country with a poor human rights record and high levels of perscution.

He said: "I am a refugee forced to leave my family where I was born and raised. 

"I suffered a lot during the escape to save my life and reach a sfae county. 

"When I didn't know what type of country this is, they told me in the airport that I was safe in this country and there is no danger to me.

"I have now been here nine months and I have much uncertainty about my asylum case and it causes me lots of worry.

"I now suffer from depression.

"I was sent to the controversial barge, the Bibby Stockholm.

"It has been referred to as a death trap - it's caused me mental and physical difficulties.

"All the media wrote about the discovery of the Legionella bacteria, I lived there for four days - ate and drank there, took showers.

"It put my health at risk.

"In a letter the Home Office told me I am not a prisoner there and that I am free, but the high walls, strict security measures and restrictions on entry and exit made it feel like a prison and I do not senese freedom there.

"It does not feel like the same place advertised in the media.

Portland Global Friendship Group supported the asylum seekers while they were on the Bibby Stockholm and since their removal with donations of needed toiletries.

Heather is a member of the group.

Heather said: "Braham's case is typical of those placed on the Bibby Stockholm. I really can't understand why the government is so determined to return the men to the barge.

Nadir* was also placed on the barge, he said: "We've been without a plan for about 46 days.

"We're tired, nervous, worried and under a lot of stress.” 

“They want to send us back to the ship but we don’t want to be prisoners.

We want to work, study and be like ordinary citizens.

"The government has not interviewed us for nearly a year.

"Why are they taking so long to process our applications?”

Azad, another asylum seeker formerly on the barge, said: “We are in constant confusion, and without any plan, our circumstances are much more challenging than other refugees and it is truly heartbreaking.

"The stress of being returned to the barge is truly weighing on us.

"We are threatened to return to the ship and if this isn’t done, our government services will be cut off.

“All we want is to live like ordinary people.

"Why should we be sentenced to imprisonment and endure much stress and anxiety?

"Is this government really concerned about the additional expenses of refugees

"Why has the government hired more than 20 employees for us, a total of 39, when there are more cost-effective solutions?

“Is the UK government really processing claims, or is the government accumulating refugees to exploit the issue for their own goals?

"We feel like bait for a death trap, not knowing whether we will survive, or will be set free from a merciful hunter."

Parviz* also fears return to the Bibby Stockholm.

He said: “What I saw in that barge was a small room like that, and the bad smell in the room bothered me a lot.

"There was no way out.

"I want people to help prevent us and others from being returned to that ship, not even for one night.

"The distance from our own country and family is already so stressful, disturbing and sad.”

Lynne Hubbard, joint chair of Stand Up To Racism Dorset, said: “This is a prison barge, it should never be used for refugees.

"How inhumane–how cruel to impose this on people who have escaped war and conflict.

"We welcome refugees to Dorset but not to a vessel that’s a threat to everyone placed on it.

"We think the prison barge should be scrapped and we support refugees who refuse to return to the Bibby Stockholm or who reject a move from hotels or other places in which they are staying."