Refugees are being abandoned on the streets without warm clothing or anywhere to live or sleep. Some are left with no option but to beg to return to the abysmal conditions they have left behind in repressive camps and detention centres.
Amanda is an activist in Ramsgate, Kent, near the Manston processing centre. She was “so shocked” to see three refugees who had been left stranded in London turned away from the centre last week.
Manston—with a 1,600 person capacity—was recently holding up to 4,000 refugees for weeks longer than the 48-hour legal limit. Elderly people, pregnant women and children were forced to sleep on the floor of gazebos. The authorities dehumanised the refugees, referred to by number and not given proper food.
The overcrowding, ignored by home secretary Suella Braverman, led to disease spreading without any medical attention.
The authorities reduced the overcrowding by simply dumping refugees with no place to stay or a place to live properly. Last week after a bus dropped refugees in central London, 11 were left stranded. And after another drop-off, 18 more were found to have slept rough in the capital before charities stepped in to find accommodation.
Before a protest outside Manston last Wednesday, Amanda noticed “something going on” further down the road. “We weren’t allowed to go over—we were told we’d be prosecuted for trespass.”
Amanda and others who had come to protest saw three young men who had limited money and did not speak English.
A man near Amanda—Abdul—said he had brought the three young men to the centre. They had been taken to central London the day before on a bus and were part of the group of 11 who were dumped outside Victoria station.
“They spent the night on the streets of London and thought the only option they had was to go back to the centre. We know it is ghastly in there but they’d have a bit of food and somewhere to sleep.
“From London they’d got back to Dover on the train, which is around 20 miles from Manston. They’d got in touch with Abdul who agreed to pick them up and drive them back to Manston.”
“When they got back, they were told they weren’t allowed in because they’d been deregistered. It was 6pm, freezing cold and they were wearing sweatshirts and flip flops. The boys had nowhere to go—they didn’t belong anywhere. It breaks my heart to think that their only option was to go back to a place that is so awful.”
Amanda tried to talk to the guards for around an hour—and was again threatened with prosecution.
“No one was going to talk to us or tell us what was going on,” she said “They were basically saying, ‘We don’t want you.’ Where is the duty of care? Why are people left on the streets of London or Dover?
“Eventually they were allowed back in. But it’s just unbelievably shocking to be treated like that.
Over 2,000 refugees have been moved out of Manston, but refugees are reportedly still forced to sleep on the floor. Guards have also been photographed pinning down a refugee who was trying to communicate with journalists through the fences.
Activists have been trying to arrange a visit to Manston to see the conditions for themselves. “It is so well protected, they’ve had police and army there,” Amanda explained.
“It’s horrific how they’re being treated, it’s as if they’re not really human because they don’t want to deal with them.”
Amanda also criticised those who say refugees just want to live off the state. “They’re not allowed to work,” she explained.
“I think they have taken away people’s right to work because it gives them a strong reason to be in Britain. If you keep people in hotels, they’re never going to be part of society and it’s easier to make this narrative against them. It’s chilling.”
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