Refugees evacuated from notorious UK immigration centre 'left stranded in London'
They had been removed from the overcrowded Manston centre in Kent, a former military base that has been turned into an effective dumping point for migrants.
Around 40 migrants were moved from the Manston facility on Tuesday, but 11 of them had nowhere to go once they arrived at Victoria station in central London, according to homeless charity volunteers.
This story has only come out because the migrants stranded at Victoria station were lucky a charity worker was there. I've worked in London homelessness: so many migrants are scooped up by gang masters or forced into sexual exploitation, and never seen again #r4today https://t.co/FSsxjeSYKT— Sir Richard Mountbasket🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@RichMountbasket) November 3, 2022
One of the migrants quoted by the BBC said that he expected to be taken to a hotel in London. Instead, he was asked by the bus driver to call his family when he arrived at Victora.
"I said to [the bus driver] maybe there was a misunderstanding because I don't have family in here," he said. "At Victoria station I didn't know what to do. Other guys went to their families but where should I go?"
The group was spotted by a charity worker at the station who was able to call for help. The migrants were eventually taken to a hotel in Norwich at around 1am.
A Home Office spokesperson said that the asylum seekers had previously said they had family in London.
"The individuals were transported to Victoria coach station, London, because they said they had accommodation in that location which would not leave them destitute. They told us they had accommodation with friends or family available to them," the spokesperson told The New Arab.
"Any suggestion there was an error in transporting the individuals to Victoria is wrong.
"The Home Office worked at pace to find accommodation for the individuals when we were notified that 11 of them did not in fact have a place to stay."
The UK government has faced widespread criticism for its handling of asylum seekers over the past few months.
This includes the horrifying living conditions at the Manston facility, with outbreaks of disease and residents forced to sleep on floors due to overcrowding, according to reports.
It was intended to hold migrants for four weeks at a time when they are meant to stay for no more than a day while their claims are processed.
The former military base houses around 4,000 refugees, despite having space for only 1,600 and residents have variously described the camp as "filthy".
On Thursday, a young girl being held in the facility threw a message in a bottle over the fence, begging for help.
"There's a lot of children. They shouldn't be here. They should be in a school not prison," the letter said. "We really need your help. Please help us."
The Manston facility is currently being evacuated of hundreds of residents due to "dangerous overcrowding".
Awful scenes from Manston are not isolated. Yesterday at @SheffCouncil I raised concerns about the local #hostileenvironment— Dr Rizwana Lala (@Rizwanalala) November 3, 2022
Asylum seekers, including children, live in overcrowded, dirty accommodation. They present in Sheffield hospitals with severe trauma + malnutrition. pic.twitter.com/SnIfz7PxnQ
The abysmal conditions in Manston are not isolated, according to Rizwana Lala, who is a Labour party candidate running for parliament from Sheffield.
She alleged that "Asylum seekers, including children, live in overcrowded, dirty accommodation" in Sheffield, and face a "hostile environment" in Sheffield hospital.
Earlier this week, Home Minister Suella Braverman - who was controversially reappointed to the post just days after she had quit - was heavily criticised for comparing the arrival of migrants in Britain to an "invasion".
She has also come under fire for supporting the deportation of migrants to Rwanda, and earlier this year said watching a plane carrying deportees to the African country was her "dream".