'Take action now' say campaigners after a migrant at Manston processing centre in Kent dies in hospital

20 November 2022, 12:15 | Updated: 20 November 2022, 12:23

Campaigners have called for an overhaul of the migrant processing system after the death of a man
Campaigners have called for an overhaul of the migrant processing system after the death of a man. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Campaigners have called for the government to take "urgent action" to improve the immigration system after the death of a man who was staying at the Manston migrant processing centre.

The Home Office said on Saturday night that a migrant staying at Manston in Kent died in hospital after becoming unwell.

The man arrived in the UK in a small boat crossing on November 12 and fell ill on Friday (November 18), before being moved to hospital. Efforts are under way to inform the man's next of kin.

Freedom From Torture, which provides psychological support to asylum seekers, called for a "compassionate asylum system".

It posted on Twitter: "We've said it before: this Government's cruelty to refugees isn't accidental - it's the whole point.

"We need a compassionate asylum system that works. NOW."

Campaigners outside Manston earlier this month
Campaigners outside Manston earlier this month. Picture: Getty
Protesters demonstrate outside the detention centre
Protesters demonstrate outside the detention centre. Picture: Getty

Inquest, which supports bereaved families following a death in state care, has called for an independent investigation into the death and an overhaul of the system.

It posted: "It feels as if it was only a matter of time before a death like this happened in this completely closed facility.

"We need urgent action on Manston, independent investigation of this death & an overhaul of this inhumane immigration system."

Read more: Migrant staying at Manston processing centre in Kent dies in hospital after becoming ill

Read more: Government facing legal challenge over migrant overcrowding in Manston

The Home Office said in a statement: "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."

Minister: Conditions at Manston migrant centre 'poor but they are improving'

But they added there was "no evidence at this stage to suggest that this tragic death was caused by an infectious disease".

"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."

He became ill while being held there and was rushed to hospital, where he died.

The case has been sent to the coroner and the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Read more: 'I sleep with a sledgehammer next to my bed after a migrant tried to break into my garden'

Read more: Devon Council takes Home Office to court to stop third hotel being used to house migrants

A group of migrants being brought into the centre
A group of migrants being brought into the centre. Picture: Alamy

Earlier this month hundreds of people had to be moved out of the site after it became dangerously overcrowded.

The situation was labelled a “breach of humane conditions.”

The site, which opened in January this year, was designed to hold up to 1,600 people for no more than 24 hours.

But there were reports of people being forced to sleep on the floor, being held there for extended periods of time, and reports of outbreaks of contagious diseases.

A report of the site carried out in July this year by HM Inspectorate of Prisons found migrants on the site were sleeping on floors and unable to use the toilet in privacy.

Following the report's publication, Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor urged the government department and its contractors to speed up the processing of migrants and make "suitable provisions" so people can be moved off the site as quickly as possible.

The report also found trafficking victims and vulnerable people “were not always assessed or recorded appropriately.”

Some detainees were banned from using mobile phones to tell their families they were safe. In some areas of the site detainees were not allowed to fully close toilet doors.

The inspection highlighted a number of ‘risks’ associated with the facility.

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