The war of words over conditions at the Manston “migrant processing centre” in Kent has intensified after a young girl threw a message in a bottle – begging for help – over the fence.
It was picked up by a PA news agency photographer and may be read in the video clip below (with commentary by Professor Tim Wilson):
The claim that migrants are being kept from talking to journalists seems borne out by this comment from the Mirror:
Witnesses have said they have seen security guards at the site ushering detainees inside when journalists approach the fence.
The young girl reportedly broke past security and ran to the fence to toss the bottle.
At least one government minister has admitted that the Manston camp is not being operated legally – with people detained longer than the 24 hours that the law allows. This tends to confirm the refugee girl’s claim that it is a prison:
Climate minister Graham Stuart admitted that the situation is unacceptable to the people of the UK.
But he insisted on blaming illegal gangs who exploit refugees, rather than admitting that his government has cut off legal routes for them to get into the UK and claim asylum.
And he had nothing to say about the simple fact that people would not want to come to the UK if conditions were safe in their own countries. The Tory government has absolutely no interest in helping to change that situation and stop people from trying to get here.
Sadly, there is a lot of misinformation about the number of asylum applications here. George Eaton on Twitter reckons the number of applications the UK receives are among the lowest in Europe…
— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) November 1, 2022
… but this is not borne out by the actual numbers. Cyprus has a very low population so despite the high number of applications per 10,000 population, its 30,000+ refugees are not more than the UK’s 57,000+.
Austria has only 38,000+ applicants.
Germany, on the other hand, has a massive 190,000+ applicants – nearly four times as many as the UK. France has nearly 120,000 – nearly twice as many as the UK.
It is only as a proportion of the population that the number of asylum applications to the UK is among the lowest in Europe.
So there is a large number of applications and we should not let anyone abuse the different between percentages and real numbers to tell us otherwise.
But that does not mean that the asylum seekers themselves should be blamed for their plight.
That is what racist Tories – and their followers among the general population – are trying to tell us and it is a message that must be rejected out-of-hand.
Yes, criminal gangs who exploit refugees for money need to be tackled. But when was the last time you heard a news report saying any of them had been caught? The Tories aren’t doing anything about it at all.
And it is vital that the situation in the refugees’ home countries must be addressed. Again, there’s no interest in that direction from your government.
Persecuting innocent people like the child who sent the message is nothing but racist cruelty. Tim Wilson is right – it is disgusting and brings shame down on us all.
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