By R. Banks
THE GOVERNMENT’S mistreatment of asylum seekers has come into public focus in recent weeks through a series of scandals, highlighting serious safeguarding failures and violations of basic human rights.
It began with the Manston processing centre, a former military base in Kent. The site was intended to process 1,000 to 1,600 people a day, with checks to be completed within 24 hours. Dan Mahoney, the Government’s ominously titled ‘clandestine channel threat commander’, admitted that at some points last Autumn the number of detainees exceeded 3,000, some being held there for over a month.
Asylum seekers who were incarcerated at Manston, Kent are now launching a legal challenge. These include a young woman who said she was forced to sleep on the floor close to men she did not know in filthy and degrading conditions for 21 days and a family with young children forced to sleep on flattened cardboard boxes with toilets overflowing, no water for washing and no clean clothes.
As with other public services, years of underfunding have left facilities crowded and unable to cope with the scale of demand. Government statistics show that 143,377 people are awaiting an initial decision in their asylum application.
Rather than ensuring sufficient resources are allocated to process claims for asylum in a humane and effective way, asylum seekers have instead been crammed into hotels to await a decision. They are banned from working and must live on just £8 per week.
These vulnerable people are easy victims for human trafficking gangs, particularly unaccompanied children. Hundreds of children have been abducted from outside one Brighton hotel alone: a pattern repeated across the South Coast.
Of 600 unaccompanied children who have passed through that hotel in the past 18 months, 136 have been reported missing, 79 of them still unaccounted for. Whistle-blowers at the hotel repeatedly raised concerns with the police and the Home Office, but were met with indifference.
This neglect is the cost of the Tories’ disregard for the rights of refugees and migrants. We cannot allow these injustices to continue. We say: