The situation at the Manston asylum processing center represents a “violation of humane conditions,” British Conservative MP Roger Gale said on Monday, as dozens of charities wrote to the prime minister to express concern about “overcrowding.”
The Manston Migration Center in Kent in south-east England currently holds about 4,000 people, including women and children, despite only 1,500 people being expected to be accommodated, local MP Gale told Sky News.
“This is completely unacceptable,” said Gale, who visited the former RAF base last week, although he added that the staff were “trying to perform well under impossible circumstances.”
It comes after dozens of charities signed an open letter from Affirmative Housing charity Sunaku expressing concern about what they called “overcrowding and inhumane conditions” at Manston Centre.
“We take the safety and well-being of those under our care very seriously and are working closely with our healthcare professionals and the UK Health Security Agency to ensure their well-being,” the Home Office told CNN.
The Home Office also confirmed that it was aware of a very small number of cases of diphtheria reported in downtown Manston: “The Home Office provides round-the-clock medical services in Manston, including trained medical staff and a doctor.”
On Sunday, about 700 people who crossed the English Channel in small boats were resettled in Manston after “incendiary devices” were thrown at the migration center in Dover, local police confirmed.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, who visited Manston on Sunday, acknowledged “huge pressure” from the center in a tweet.
“More than 1,000 migrants who crossed the English Channel yesterday are creating enormous pressure. I have been very impressed with the staff I have met while managing this unbearable situation,” Jenrick said on Sunday.
The warnings sound like criticism of the reappointment of Swella Braverman as home secretary. Braverman is known for her tough stance on immigration.
More than a hundred refugee charities wrote an open letter to Braverman on Monday, urging her to address what they called “delayed asylum cases” and create safe routes for refugees heading to the UK.
The letter mentions comments Braverman made during a Conservative Party conference earlier in October, in which she said it would be her “dream” and “obsession” to see a Telegraph front-page image of a plane carrying migrants taking off for Rwanda. , where some UK asylum seekers could be resettled under a controversial scheme.
“You mentioned the proud history of this asylum country. Therefore, we ask you to do this through a fair, kind and efficient system for refugees,” the letter says.
Braverman, who called illegal Channel crossings an “invasion”, defended her immigration policy on Monday.
Speaking to lawmakers in the House of Commons, she said she was trying to prepare the Manston area for the influx of people and denied accusations that she had blocked the use of hotels for immigrants.
“I anticipated concerns at Manston in September and deployed additional resources and staff to ensure emergency accommodation is ramped up quickly,” she said.
“What I refused to do was to prematurely release thousands of people into local communities without being able to stay,” she added, saying it would be the “worst way out.”