LONDON (AP) – Britain’s interior minister visited immigration facilities on England’s southeastern coast on Thursday as she grappled with an overcrowding crisis at a migrant facility and an outcry over her claim that the United Kingdom (UK) faced an “invasion” of asylum-seekers.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is under heavy pressure to address potentially unlawful conditions at Manston, a converted airfield that has held up to 4,000 people who made hazardous journey across the English Channel on small boats to reach the UK.
The building, meant to be a temporary processing centre for new arrivals, became a focal point this week after it emerged that some migrants have been detained there for weeks in cramped, inhumane conditions. Independent inspectors have reported migrant children sleeping on floors, with no access to phones or fresh air.
Critics, including the opposition Labour Party, have blamed Braverman’s hardline stance against unauthorised immigration for aggravating problems within the asylum system. They have accused her of blocking hotel bookings to ease overcrowding at the Manston centre – claims that she denies.
Braverman met with the coast guard and toured Manston but avoided reporters throughout her visit. She also toured a migrant centre in the port town of Dover, the scene of a gasoline bomb attack last Sunday.
Police said the firebombing, which slightly injured two staff members, was likely driven by “hate-filled grievance”.
The suspect, who killed himself after the attack, reportedly supported far-right causes on social media.
Britain’s government said the situation at the Manston centre was improving, with more than 1,000 people having been relocated to other accommodations in recent days. But about 2,700 remain at the centre, which was intended to host about half that number.