Manston is empty but the Tories’ far-right policies remain

An aerial shot of Manston detention centre for refugees
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Manston refugee detention centre is now empty, according to news reports. Some people have welcomed the news, while others have cautioned that this is probably not the end of the far-right Home Office’s deadly hostile environment policy.

Manston: now empty

The Guardian has claimed that the Manston centre in Kent is now “completely empty”. It noted that:

Just a few weeks ago about 4,000 arrivals were placed there by the Home Office, almost three times the maximum 1,600 capacity of the tented site in Ramsgate.

Manston has, at best, been state-sanctioned imprisonment for refugees. At worst, it and the Home Office have caused a man’s death. As abolitionist group SOAS Detainee Support tweeted:


The man, who the Home Office has not yet named, died in hospital after becoming ill at Manston. The Home Office has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for an investigation.

Manston, and the Home Office, have been dogged by further controversy – from outbreaks of diphtheria to horrendous overcrowding and conditions. As the Canary previously reported, Manston was only ever meant to hold people for 24 hours:

However, a prison watchdog warned that authorities are detaining people on the site for a much longer period, without beds, proper healthcare, or access to fresh air and exercise. The watchdog noted reports of cases of contagious diseases such as scabies, diphtheria and MRSA within the centre.

Now, it seems that the Home Office has moved all the detainees off site.

This isn’t the end of the Home Office’s deadly hostile environment policy

Sky News reported that:

On Tuesday [22 November], Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said Manston is meant to be a temporary holding facility where people are moved on “often fairly quickly”.

So, it seems Downing Street may have intervened in home secretary Suella Braverman’s department. On social media, people have reacted cautiously to the news of Manston being empty.

Some people were calling for an independent investigation into Manston:

Another Twitter user wondered:

However, campaign group Detention Action warned that the Home Office will just replicate Manston elsewhere:

Questions also remain about where the refugees from Manston have gone. Previously, the Home Office dumped some of them in central London for hours with no support.

Unfortunately, Manston will not be the last time the UK government treats refugees appallingly. Sadly, the Home Office is likely to create another Manston (or force more people into it again) while claiming refugees are the problem – not it and its far-right policies.

Featured image via Sky News – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. I was at Manston yesterday with a group of local people who regularly go at noon. We were also told that it was “empty”. The gate staff have clearly been instructed to “know nothing” which of course raises suspicions that they know plenty. What we witnessed was a huge amount of activity – cars and lorries and buses entering. It may be empty of detainees now, but I’m afraid there are plans to fill it up again. I can’t see this as something that can go into the past.

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