‘Shut Manston down’ – hundreds protest outside migrant centre in pouring rain

Hundreds of people have staged a protest in the pouring rain outside Manston detention centre demanding it is shut down.

Action Against Detention And Deportation demonstrators chanted and banged metal pots outside the Kent base, which has been at the centre of the immigration crisis this week after it became dangerously overcrowded.

People in the umbrella-clad crowd shouted “shut Manston down”, while some unfurled a banner reading: “The enemy doesn’t arrive by boat, he arrives by limousine”.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
Protesters outside the Manston immigration short-term holding facility in Thanet, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA).

Several people raised placards reading “no-one is illegal”, “refugees welcome” and “Braverman out now”.

Videos posted online by protesters showed what appeared to be a mother, father and their baby waving at them from inside the facility.

Benny Hunter, 29, a youth worker from Lewisham, told the PA news agency that he attended the Manston protest to “demand a closure to the camp”.

He said: “We came together as part of Actions Against Detention & Deportations to show solidarity with the people detained illegally inside Manston camp.

“We went there to demand a closure to the camp – and all other immigration detention.

“Women, men and children are being held in appalling conditions when they could instead be in the community.

“Migration is a fact of life and always has been. We want anyone who comes to the UK seeking sanctuary to feel welcomed and to be supported to rebuild their lives here.”

Mr Hunter said it was “horrifying to see children and babies behind barbed wire fences for no other reason than their immigration status”.

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A man thought to be a migrant at the window of the Manston immigration short-term holding facility during a protest outside (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“I can’t imagine the trauma of being detained, without a warrant, without having committed a crime, not knowing when you will be released”, he added.

“These families came to save themselves and they have been dealt with in such a brutal way.”

It comes after it was revealed the former military base, which opened as a processing centre in February intending to hold a maximum of 1,600 people for 24 hours at a time, was housing around 4,000 for weeks on end.

Some asylum seekers described the conditions inside as being like “a prison” and begged for help.

On Wednesday, a young girl threw a bottle containing a letter, which said there were pregnant women and sick detainees inside the centre, over the perimeter fence to a PA news agency photographer.

By Friday, Downing Street said the number of people at Manston had fallen to 2,600, with 1,200 removed from the site within the previous four days.