A report released on Thursday said migrants are still being held in “extremely poor” conditions in the UK despite promises of improvement from the government, with the number of illegal arrivals at record levels.
The Dover and Heathrow prison inspectorate and independent monitoring committees, composed of volunteers tasked by the government to assess reception conditions, have visited several facilities in the past three months.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor said that despite assurances from previous inspections in 2020, there had been only “limited progress”.
“The people detained, including a large number of unaccompanied minors, continued (in 2021) to suffer very poor conditions,” he said.
According to the report, families with young children had to spend more than 24 hours in tents near Dover, the main English port on the banks of the English Channel.
He adds that women who reported being raped by human traffickers “did not receive adequate assistance”.
It also points to “significant” safety problems for unaccompanied minors, who are “regularly detained” alongside adults who are not related to them.
During an October visit to central Tug Haven near Dover, inspectors noted that temperatures were low, especially on the double-decker buses sometimes used for overnight stays.
They found that many children, including infants, as well as adults at risk, were staying there to sleep, and that some injuries – burns, cuts and bruises on the feet – were not detected or treated.
They cited the case of a “16-year-old girl who had fuel burns to her legs and stayed in Tug Haven for two days with her clothes wet”. When his injuries were finally recognized, “the crevices of his clothing were engraved with burns and a doctor stated that he may have scars for life.”
Shortcomings were also noted at a hub at London Heathrow Airport, which holds migrants before they are deported from the UK.
Inspectors reported that four buses arrived one night and the migrants had to sleep on the floor without adequate sanitation.
They described the conditions as “unacceptable and humiliating, but inevitable given the center’s inability to process arrivals.”
pau-acc / an