Detained Children Scream for Help in Manston Camp

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A protester waving to the people and children behind the barbed wire fence at Manston

A press release following our visit to Manston detention camp on Sunday 30th October 2022.

MANSTON, Kent – This Sunday protestors from Action Against Detention and Deportations (AADD) witnessed children screaming “we need your help” from within the confines of the overcrowded and unsafe Manston detention camp. They shouted “freedom, freedom!” before security herded them inside.  

Across a barbed wire fence we asked people where they were from, and they shouted Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and Sudan. They told us they have been detained in the ‘temporary’ camp for as long as 30-40 days, under horrendous conditions: no access to lawyers, telephones or doctors. Detained people told us “we’re getting sick” and life in the camp was “not good”.

Through one of the gated entrances to the camp, we saw a father walking around holding his daughter inside a cage, unable to leave. 

The camp is already overcrowded – and we saw hundreds more people arriving on coaches and buses, wrapped in blankets, exhausted and spent. Thirteen full coaches arrived at the camp over the course of just three hours. Only one coach with a handful of people, including security personnel, left during that time.

700 new people arrived at Manston yesterday, according to Kent Police, because of the petrol bombing in Dover, and the BBC now reports that numbers have reached 4,000. The maximum capacity of the site is 1,600. It is a humanitarian catastrophe.

The camp is highly securitised and isolated: surrounded by layers of fences, barbed wire, police, military and private security personnel; the outermost fences are covered up with tarpaulin sheets, largely preventing people from looking in and out. AADD saw piles of blue plastic bags with identification tags, containing the belongings confiscated from the detained people upon arrival.

Mitie – known for running violent immigration detention centres – runs the camp, while other companies such as MTC – known for brutalising children in youth jails – have also been contracted to provide security. 

AADD believes Manston is a concentration camp, and that interning people there illegally is a political decision taken by Suella Braverman and the Home Office. 

This is a life threatening situation. Unless people are moved into safe accommodation immediately, lives will be lost from a highly contagious disease, abuse or neglect. People arriving at this camp have fled war, persecution, poverty and climate breakdown. How many are women and children traumatised by rape and other torture? People have the right to settle and to claim asylum and protection in the UK. The government is breaking international law and any humane standard by imprisoning people, including children, in these conditions. The childrens’ cries of “freedom” and “we need your help” are a haunting indictment of the British border regime. 

Action Against Detention and Deportation is a coalition of organisations, including SOAS Detainee Support, Global Women Against Deportations, Global Justice Now and others. We stand against deportations and detention as tools of hate, division, and a racist state.


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