Child hurls note over fence describing harrowing conditions at Manston

'We are in a difficult life now,' it says

A young girl runs towards the fence carrying the message in a bottle. PA
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A young girl threw a note over the walls of a migrant processing centre in southern England which described conditions inside and claimed that sick and pregnant people are being held there.

Migrants at the Manston processing centre in Dover have begged for help and the letter described conditions there as similar to a “prison”.

The young girl threw a bottle containing the letter over the perimeter fence on Wednesday. The letter claimed there were pregnant women and sick detainees at the Kent centre.

The letter, written in broken English appeared to suggest 50 families had been held at Manston for more than 30 days.

“We are in a difficult life now … we fill [sic] like we're in prison,” it said. “Some of us very sick … ther's [sic] some women's that are pregnant they don't do anything for them … We really need your help. Please help us.”

The letter claims there is a disabled child at the site and adds: “He's really bad, they don't even care about him.”

Asylum seekers from the processing centre at Manston were reportedly left at London’s Victoria coach station without accommodation on Tuesday, it has emerged.

Two British newspapers reported on Wednesday that a group of about 40 migrants from were dropped off.

And while about 30 had family or friends they were able to contact to stay with, 11 were left with no accommodation and were helped by a charity worker.

The embattled Home Secretary is under mounting pressure to get a handle on the migrant crisis as the Government faces potential legal action over an asylum centre with conditions branded “dire” by senior MPs.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick estimated about 3,500 people remained at the Manston facility in Kent on Wednesday night – despite its maximum capacity of 1,600 – as his boss faced questions over what will be done to address overcrowding at the site, as well as small boat crossings in general.

Suella Braverman was also under fire from the prime minister of Albania, who accused Britain of becoming like a “madhouse” with a culture of “finding scapegoats” during a migration crisis where “failed policies” are to blame.

Edi Rama lashed out at the Cabinet minister’s “crazy” choice of language in a combative Commons debate this week, in which she claimed there is an “invasion” of England by people crossing the Channel.

The Government is currently procuring hotels to relieve pressure on the Manston centre, near Ramsgate, but Mr Jenrick said he suspects it will take roughly seven days for numbers to drop to an “acceptable level”.

The situation had been branded a “breach of humane conditions”, with some 4,000 people thought to have been held at the site.

A young girl runs towards the fence carrying a message in a bottle describing conditions inside the Manston immigration short-term holding facility in Kent. PA

Conditions at Manston have left the UK’s immigration watchdog “speechless”. Concerns were further heightened at the weekend when petrol bombs were thrown at a migrant centre in Dover.

Dover is the focal point of British processing of asylum seekers as the country tries to curb the number of people crossing the English Channel.

About 40,000 people have arrived in the UK so far this year after making the treacherous trip from France, crossing one of the world's busiest shipping lanes in dinghies and other small boats.

At Manston, witnesses said they saw security guards at the site ushering detainees back inside when members of the press were walking by the fence.

The young girl was among a group of children who broke past security guards and ran over to the fence to throw the bottle to a photographer.

Part of the letter thrown to them said: “It's not easy for someone who has children … There's a lot of children they shouldn't be here. They should be in a school not prison."

“Our food is very bad like its [sic] make us fill [sic] sick … we got no phone no money no smok [sic].”

A letter thrown by a young girl over the fence at the Manston immigration facility. PA

The letter added: “We wanna talk to you but they don't even let us go outside.”

The question of how to deal with them has become a political problem for the ruling Conservative government, which has promised to get tough on immigration.

Increased naval patrols, asking France to step up land operations and the Rwanda deportation policy — a move that so far has not got off the ground — are among the measures the government has put forward to discourage people from attempting the trip.

There were 299 people who made the journey in 2018. The next year, 1,843 crossings were recorded, followed by 8,466 in 2020 and 28,526 last year.

Kent council chiefs have written to Ms Braverman warning that the county is at "breaking point" because of the burden of accommodating migrants, the potential for disorder at Manston and the risk of far-right violence.

"The situation at Manston is critical," the letter said. "We now have approaching 4,000 service users contained within segregated marquees as we approach the coldest months of the year, and some having been on roll mats for over a month."

The Home Office said it provides for all the basic needs of migrants arriving in the UK, their safety and those of its staff are its utmost priority and it is committed to protecting their welfare.

A Home Office representative said: "Manston remains resourced and equipped to process migrants securely and we will provide alternative accommodation as soon as possible.

"We urge anyone who is thinking about leaving a safe country and risking their lives at the hands of vile people smugglers to seriously reconsider. Despite what they have been told, they will not be allowed to start a new life here."

Updated: November 03, 2022, 7:09 AM
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