Migrant at Home Office's controversial Manston immigration centre dies

Migrant staying at Home Office’s controversial Manston immigration centre dies after ‘becoming unwell,’ officials confirm

  • The person was taken straight to hospital upon their arrival in the UK last week
  • They were later discharged to Manston, but became unwell on Friday
  • They passed away on Saturday morning, the Home Office confirmed in a tweet 
  • It comes after weeks of controversy about the poor conditions at the centre 

A migrant who arrived in the UK and was sent to the controversial Manston immigration centre has died, the Home Office has said.

The person, who has not been named, is said to have arrived in the UK last week and was taken straight to hospital.

They were later discharged and taken to Manston, near the port of Dover in Kent.

On Friday, they became ill and sadly passed away this morning, The Telegraph reports.

A Home Office spokesperson said there was ‘no evidence at this stage to suggest that this tragic death was caused by an infectious disease’. 

They added: ‘We take the safety and welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and provide 24/7 health facilities with trained medical staff at Manston.’ 

The news follows weeks of controversies around conditions at immigration centres in the UK, especially at Manston.

The immigration centre, designed to be stayed at for no more than 48 hours, is currently home to many vulnerable asylum seekers fleeing war or persecution, including women and children.

New figures obtained by the charity Refugee Council showed the scale of a huge backlog in asylum applications, including 155 children who have been waiting for an initial decision on their case for more than five years. 

The person died after becoming ill at Manston immigration centre on Saturday morning

Manston is one of the main processing centres designed to hold migrants until more suitable accommodation can be found

The Home Office said in a statement: ‘A person staying at our Manston facility has sadly died in hospital this morning after becoming unwell. We express our heartfelt condolences to all those affected. 

‘We take the safety of those in our care extremely seriously and are profoundly saddened by this event. 

‘A post-mortem examination will take place so it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.’

In recent weeks there have been reports of serious infections at Manston including diptheria and scabies, but the government says it does not believe that was the cause of death.

It was revealed last week that the government is to vaccinate people within the centre against diptheria after several cases were detected there. 

A post mortem is set to take place at a later date. 

The Manston centre in Kent was the subject of a right-wing terror attack last month, in which a man drove more than 100 miles and threw three homemade petrol bombs at the gates. One member of staff was injured. 

The centre was designed to hold people who had arrived in the UK via small boat crossings for just a couple of days while they were processed and alternative accommodation was found.

But despite being built to house up to 1,600 people at once, by the end of October there were more than 4,000 people there – including young families who had been at the centre more than 30 days.

There were reports of awful conditions at the site, with families left to sleep on the floor for weeks due to a lack of beds.

Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers were moved from the ‘inhumane’ Manston processing centre after it was branded a ‘filthy prison’ by residents who said they caught scabies, had their phones and cigarettes ‘confiscated’ and were ‘forced to sleep on the floor’.

The former RAF base in Kent, which re-opened as an immigration centre in January, was initially designed to hold up to 1,600 people for no more than 48 hours, but instead became a temporary home to almost 4,000 migrants, leading to outbreaks of diphtheria, scabies, MRSA and violence.

Many of those staying there are women and children and are believed to come from Syria, Afghanistan and Iran, but one claims they were treated more like ‘animals in a zoo’.

In a message delivered to media photographers by a young child at the centre, those inside claimed they were living in horrific circumstances and felt as if they were ‘in prison’.

It further alleged that those in the centre, including young children, were not allowed outside and that pregnant women were not being cared for.

It led to government minister Grant Shapps warning the centre could easily tip into unlawful conditions.

Following the revelations, Home Office staff faced a scramble to book hotels to house some of those at Manston, which culminated in a mix-up in which a group of migrants and asylum seekers were left at Victoria Station with no idea where they were and no place to go.

They were assisted by homeless charities before Home Office officials eventually arrived to pick them up and return them to the centre.

The issues at Manston are thought to be partly down to a massive backlog in processing of asylum applications, which a Parliamentary report says is down to antiquated IT systems, high staff turn-over, and too few staff.

Charity Refugee Council revealed new figures obtained via Freedom of Information requests this week that showed the number of people waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim has quadrupled in just five years.

Last month Home Secretary Suella Braverman branded the asylum system in the UK ‘broken’ – receiving fierce backlash from the opposition who said she was partly to blame.

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