Migrants in the UK may share hotels with the public as part of Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s measures to tackle “catastrophic overcrowding” at the Manston asylum processing center in Kent amid the Channel crisis, a British media outlet has reported.
Braverman was previously accused of turning a deaf ear to Manston's overcrowding problem and reportedly refusing to approve new hotels where asylum seekers could be sent upon arriving in the UK.
Last week, David Neal, the UK government’s Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, told MPs that the situation at the Manston migrant processing center was "wretched" and “really dangerous”.
An unnamed government source was cited by The Telegraph as saying on Sunday that “to make it easier and more efficient,” No 10 is “looking at spot booking of hotels rather than requiring a whole hotel.”
“We have two competing legal duties. First, we don’t want to have people in Manston for too long. Secondly, we have a legal duty not to make people destitute. You cannot have thousands of people sent away with no plan to safely accommodate them,” the source added.
The Manston facility – a former Royal Air Force base - was designed to process up to 1,000 people at a time, but the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee recently obtained information that there are currently about 4,000 people in the center, including a "small number" of children.
The source’s claims came as the problem of overcrowding exacerbated even further earlier on Sunday, when hundreds of migrants were transferred to Manston after a separate Border Force migrant center in Dover was petrol bombed by a man who then killed himself.
In another development, senior Tory MPs, including Roger Gale, called on No 10 to take immediate action to ease the Manston crisis and clinch a new deal with France to reign in the Channel crossings.“The system has broken down because they [migrants] are not being moved on," Roger argued, adding that he would strongly oppose any move to expand the Manston facility.
Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, for her part, insisted that “we have to see the Prime Minister speaking directly with [French] President Emmanuel Macron to get a different agreement in terms of stopping the small boats immediately and dealing with the source of the problem.”
Tim Loughton, Tory member of the home affairs committee, argued that the government “has not got a grip on this” and that “the Home Office is still in a shambolic state.”
The remarks followed Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick saying last week that he intends to visit the Manston center "as soon as possible" and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper slamming the government's "disastrous handling of cross-Channel crossings."
She claimed that instead of "unworkable gimmicks,” such as sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, the Home Office should allocate funds for pursuing people traffickers and improving the asylum system.
On Saturday, the UK Ministry of Defense said that nearly 1,000 migrants crossed the English Channel in 24 small boats, bringing the total number of those who make the journey from France to the UK so far this month to 6,395.
Government statistics indicate that as many as 39,430 people have crossed on small boats so far this year, compared with 28,461 who arrived in Britain in 2021.
Rwanda Deal in Limbo
No 10 has meanwhile paid the Rwandan government an extra £20 million ($23 million) for the stalled asylum deal despite the fact that not a single migrant has yet been deported to Rwanda from the UK.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper was quick to lash out at the move, saying “it is shocking that the government has given Rwanda a further £20million on top of the £120million ($139 million) already spent for a policy that the Home Secretary herself has admitted is ‘failing’.”
Cooper slammed the policy as “extortionately expensive, deeply damaging, unworkable and unethical.”
“It won’t stop the criminal gangs and risks making trafficking worse. Instead of throwing away more money on this failing policy, the Government should listen to Labour, and use it instead for the National Crime Agency to crack down on the criminal gangs driving Channel crossings,” she pointed out.
Under the deal signed in April 2022, adult migrants who have arrived in the UK seeking sanctuary since January were supposed to be flown to Rwanda, with the rule not applicable to children and their parents. The European Court of Human Rights, however, barred the Home Office’s first attempt to transport migrants to Rwanda less than an hour before a flight was due to take off in June.
Subsequently, two separate judicial reviews in the High Court left the project in legal limbo, with Home Secretary Braverman saying that the maiden flight won’t take place for at least a year.
You can read this article as it originally appears at Sputnik here.
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