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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Katie Weston

Home Office 'dumps cold and hungry asylum seekers in central London' ahead of major storm

The Home Office abandoned a group of cold and hungry asylum seekers in central London, it has been reported.

About 40 people were taken by bus from the Manston migrant centre in Kent, but 11 of them had nowhere to go after being dropped off at Victoria railway station on Tuesday evening.

Danial Abbas, a volunteer with the Under One Sky homelessness charity, spotted the disoriented group of men without jackets and wearing flip-flops as heavy showers hit the capital overnight.

A yellow weather warning for rain has been issued for the South East, stretching from Portsmouth to Canterbury, from midnight until mid-afternoon today.

The Home Office said it was told the group had accommodation with friends of family available to them, and that it "worked at pace" to find them shelter once discovering they had no place to stay.

It comes after immigration minister Robert Jenrick estimated about 3,500 people remained at the controversy-hit Manston facility in Kent last night - despite its maximum capacity of 1,600.

The stranded men were all wearing identity bracelets with QR codes on their wrists (UkNewsinPictures)

The Government is currently procuring hotels to relieve pressure on the centre, near Ramsgate, but Mr Jenrick said he suspected it would take roughly seven days for numbers to drop to an "acceptable level".

Mr Abbas, who provided the stranded group with emergency supplies of clothes and food, told the Guardian: "They were stressed, disturbed and completely disoriented. They were also very hungry."

Roughly 50 asylum seekers transported from Kent were left at the same station late on Saturday night, claimed a witness.

An Afghan asylum seeker, who wished not to be named, said: "They were still on the street at midnight, trying to work out what to do, where to go.

"They had no money, and hadn’t even been told where they were."

A group of people thought to be migrants gather their belongings before leaving the Manston centre (PA)

A Home Office worker admitted a "massive error" had been made, said Mr Abbas - a claim which the government department denies.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "(They were) simply just turning to anyone and everyone on the street to help.

"We were almost glad that we were there at the right place at the right time to provide them with the sort of care and love and compassion that we did."

Asked if he had spoken to anyone at the Home Office about the situation, he said: "I personally was in touch with a gentleman from the Home Office that whole evening. Very quickly a solution was found.

A security guard supervises children inside the Manston facility (PA)

"He immediately, you know, put his hands up on behalf of the Home Office and said 'this has been a massive error, let's get this sorted ASAP'."

Mr Abbas said the group was taken to a hotel in Norwich.

However, a Home Office spokesperson told the Mirror: “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 of family available to them. 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.”

Some 4,000 people are thought to have been held at the Manston site, with the situation being branded a "breach of humane conditions".

Asylum seekers leave on a bus from the controversy-hit migrant centre (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Mr Jenrick suggested the current situation may be neither humane nor legal, telling Sky News he expected it "will be returned to a well-functioning and certainly legally compliant site very rapidly".

He also told ITV's Peston: "We're procuring more hotels in all parts of the country, decanting the migrants from Manston to those as quickly as we can.

"And once we've done that, we'll be able to restore Manston to the kind of acceptable humane conditions that all of us would want to see."

Earlier, four parliamentary committee chiefs piled further pressure on the Home Secretary to explain how the Government will get a grip on both the situation at the Kent facility and the migrant crisis in general.

In a joint letter to Ms Braverman, the chairs of the Home Affairs Committee, Justice Committee, Joint Committee on Human Rights and Women and Equalities Committee expressed their "deep concerns" over the "dire" conditions at Manston, asking what will be done to address the current situation and avoid overcrowding in future.

An aerial view of the facility near Ramsgate (Getty Images)

Council chiefs in Kent warned the county was at "breaking point" as a result of the migrant situation, with the potential for disorder at Manston and the risk of far-right violence.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the migrant crisis as a "serious and escalating problem" and admitted that "not enough" asylum claims were being processed, but insisted the Government is getting a grip on the situation.

He has backed Ms Braverman's handling of the issue, saying she has taken "significant steps" to address the problem of overcrowding at Manston.

Sources steered away from reports the Home Secretary was considering alternative destinations to Rwanda under the UK's controversial migrant deportation scheme, with possible options said to include Paraguay, Peru and Belize.

About 40,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year, with the Home Secretary criticised for warning of an "invasion" on the south coast.

Provisional Government figures to date show 39,913 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey.

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