Open Letter to The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Prime Minister and Minister for the Union

31 October 2022


Dear Prime Minister,

Overcrowding & Inhumane Conditions at RAF Base, Manston, Kent

As representatives of civil society, refugee and migrant organisations, lawyers, providers, trade unions, teachers' unions, educational institutions and faith and belief communities across the United Kingdom, we, the undersigned, write to express our grave concerns about the way your Government is handling its responsibilities under the International Refugee Convention of 1951, to which the UK is a founding signatory.

Multiple media reports, including The Observer, The Times and The Independent, suggest that your recently reappointed Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, while working under Liz Truss, directly blocked refugee transfers from a severely overcrowded “processing centre” at Manston, Kent, leading directly to outbreaks of scabies and diphtheria. The centre has a capacity of 1,000. It currently holds almost 3,000 men, women, and children - each with a face, a name and a story.

According to news reports, government ocials warned Ms Braverman that she risked breaking the law by keeping refugees at the “processing centre” for several weeks when it was intended to hold people for only 24 hours. Several government sources state that Ms Braverman had blocked the transfer of thousands of asylum seekers to hotels during her first tenure as home secretary, even though the numbers were well above capacity.

Last week, MPs heard from David Neal, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, that he was left “speechless” by what he witnessed during a visit to Manston.

Last Monday - before your controversial reappointment of Ms Braverman – the Home Oce opened three hotels to asylum seekers to ease overcrowding. The move was reportedly authorised after Grant Shapps, who temporarily replaced Ms Braverman at the Home Oce, was told about the conditions at Manston.

This government cannot hide from the facts – dangerous overcrowding, disease, and the risk of disorder. What is happening at Manston is cruel and barbaric.

Shockingly, your Home Secretary stoked xenophobia and anti-immigrant hatred to prevent human beings from being transferred out of a disease-ridden, overcrowded camp. Her dreams of taking planes to Rwanda are real-life nightmares for desperate refugees.

We cannot count the number of times people in hotels have recounted  to us they were led to believe that they would be sent to Rwanda if they complained about some mundane cruelty like food or not having money. The fear they feel about your dreams simply multiplies. We expect depression and self harm incidents to increase. 

After the arson attack at Dover, 700 more asylum seekers have been transferred to Manston, causing worsening overcrowding. This is a reminder that hate rhetoric by ministers can have deadly consequences. The Home Secretary’s decisions to block transfers and hate speech led in no small way to this.

You said you want your government to have 'integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level,' yet you have just appointed Suella Braverman to be home secretary again, a week after she resigned for breaches of the ministerial code and security lapses. Now is the time to act. As Prime Minister and Minister for the Union, we call on you to stop pandering to the far right, sack Suella Braverman and put in place someone who can do the job of Home Secretary with a shred of humanity and decency.

  1. Rachel Smith, Chair, Positive Action in Housing
  2. Robina Qureshi, CEO Positive Action in Housing
  3. Abi Kingston, Community Cook Up, London
  4. Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow.
  5. Alison Rawles
  6. Amanda Church-McFarlane, Co-CEO/Bradford Project Manager Abigail Housing
  7. Amie Byrne, ASIRT, Birmingham
  8. Amy Burrows
  9. Ana Szopa,
  10. Andrew MacDonald, Independent Social Worker
  11. Anerley Cartlidge, Caseworker, Voices in Exile
  12. Anne Hunter
  13. Annie Rhodes
  14. Anton Simanowitz, Refugee host
  15. Antonia Ineson, former public health worker
  16. Aristea Maundy, SD, Housing Drop-In Project
  17. Arthur West - Scottish Peace Network
  18. Asylum Seeker Housing Project (ASH), Glasgow
  19. Barrie Levine, Chair, Legal Services Agency, Glasgow P/C
  20. Bea Giaquinto Nottingham Arimathea Trust
  21. Beth Reid, Social Workers Without Borders // Causeway
  22. Bill MacKeith, Oxford Against Immigration Detention
  23. Billy Singh
  24. Bob Ellard, Disabled People Against Cuts
  25. Bob Rice, Dundee Labour Party
  26. Brian Smith, UNISON Glasgow Branch Secretary
  27. Bridget Wylie, Emeritus Professor
  28. C Marta Buszewicz, General Practitioner
  29. Carol Hayden
  30. Carrie Wheater, CEO, RAY (Refugee Action York
  31. Cat Robertson, media co-op
  32. Catharine Ward Thompson, The Welcoming, Edinburgh
  33. Catherine Rice, Dundee Labour Party
  34. Cathy Turner, Duchenne Care Improvement Project Manager, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  35. Christa Hook, Peebles, Scottish Borders
  36. Christine Puckering, psychologist and refugee host
  37. Clare Baker, Cambridge Welcome
  38. Clare Scanlan
  39. Colin Birks
  40. Crystal Dickinson
  41. Daniel Allum, Advocate, Causeway
  42. Dave Sherry, Unite Retired Members Branch
  43. David Jackson, Cranhill Development Trust
  44. Deborah Gill Rea, Independent Volunteer Caseworker for disabled asylum seekers and those with Right to Remain.
  45. Dr Gen Cannibal Refugee host
  46. Dr Marion Hersh, UCU NEC
  47. Dr Paul S Philippou, Perth Against Racism
  48. Dr Rachel Douglas, University of Glasgow
  49. Dr Helen Groom Retired Gateshead GP
  50. Dr Paul Miller, Glasgow
  51. Dr.Rhetta Moran, RAPAR, Human Rights Organisation, Advisor to Leadership-Manchester
  52. Eddie O’Hara, Chair All Birmingham’s Children
  53. Eleanor Grieve, Lecturer Glasgow University
  54. Elisabeth Burleigh, Cambridge
  55. Elizabeth Egziabher SRMP
  56. Elizabeth Hare Chair Refugee Advocacy Information and Support Lancaster
  57. Elizabeth Long, Partnerships Coordinator, Refugee, Asylum seeker and Migrant Action
  58. Elizabeth Johnson, Peebles
  59. Emma Kemsley-Pein, Housing Solicitor, Tower Hamlets Law Centre
  60. Eve Phillips, Immigration Advisor, ASIRT
  61. Felipe Bustos Sierra, filmmaker
  62. Felix Kupay, CEO Entraide (Mutual Aid)
  63. Gail Fraser
  64. Gareth Lynn Montes, Welsh Refugee Council
  65. Grant Lewison, refugee host
  66. Hannah Mimiec
  67. Harriet Prothero - Soltani, Welsh Refugee Council
  68. Heidi Latala- Staordshire
  69. Holly Hunter
  70. Hugh Mathie, Stirling, Scotland.
  71. Hugh O’Boyle, Freedom from Torture
  72. Iain Whyte, Iona Community
  73. Ian MacLaren, Dunoon, Scotland
  74. India Boxall, Glasgow
  75. Indre Lechtimiakyte, Legal and Migrant Support Manager, Samphire,
  76. Jacci Peach, Refugee Cardi
  77. JackWhentrefugeehost
  78. Jacob Berkson, Brighton Migrant Solidarity
  79. James Robert Gillespie, Glasgow
  80. James Swyer, New Forest West Labour Party,
  81. Jan Foster Trustee Doncaster Conversation Club
  82. Janet Fenton, Peace & Justice (Scotland)
  83. Janet Fuller Derby Refugee Advice Centre
  84. Janina Engler-Williams, Caseworker, Bristol Refugee Rights
  85. Jennifer Wilson, Glasgow
  86. Jenny Maimane, refugee host
  87. Jill Day, Project Lead, Belper Refugee Welcome
  88. Jim Malone Dundee TUC
  89. Joanne MacInnes & Leyla Williams, Directors of West London Welcome
  90. Jock Morris, Chair, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees
  91. John Dennis Secretary Dumfries & Galloway Trade Union Council
  92. John Evans
  93. John Gray RMT
  94. John Raven
  95. Jude Lancet, Welfare Adviser, Haringey Migrant Support Centre
  96. Judith Carter, Solicitor and Lecturer, University of Liverpool Law Clinic
  97. Judith Robinson, London
  98. Julia Nelki Refugee Resilience collective
  99. Julie Lawrence Samphire,
  100. Karen Paula Abrams, retired Librarian
  101. Karen Pearse, Director, Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  102. Kari Shah, refugee host
  103. Katryn Adams, Glasgow
  104. Keely Hunt - Housing Advisor St Mungo's
  105. Keith McIvor, music producer / DJ
  106. Kerry Sharkey, University of Glasgow
  107. Kirsten Arding, Asylum Link Merseyside
  108. Kevin Emmanuel, Plymouth Hope,
  109. Kooj Chuhan, Director, Crossing Footprints CIC
  110. Lainy Bedingfield Kingsway Community Connections
  111. Lauren Roberts, UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration, University of Glasgow.
  112. Lea Cowan, refugee host
  113. Lediana Pajaj, Shpresa Programme
  114. Leeds Anti-Raids Action
  115. Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts
  116. Linden Stables, Glasgow
  117. Liz Macdonald, East Dunbartonshire Action for Refugees
  118. Lorna Fitzsimmons, Glasgow
  119. Lucy Metcalfe
  120. Lucy Nabijou, Haringey Welcome
  121. Maddie Harris, Director, Humans for Rights Network
  122. Maggie Cook, Falkirk Council UNISON Branch Chair
  123. Maja Passchier, cello teacher and refugee host
  124. Mandeep Duhra
  125. Manuel Monade SRMP
  126. Mark Goldring, Director, Asylum Welcome
  127. Marta Buszewicz, GP
  128. Martina Jirankova-Limbrick
  129. Martyn Day MP, Linlithgow and East Falkirk Constituency
  130. Mary Cameron
  131. Matthew Bates, refugee host
  132. Maureen McBride, University of Glasgow
  133. Meera Senior, High Peak Stand Up To Racism and Refugee Host
  134. Melanie Kakkar
  135. Michael Shaw
  136. Michelle Lamptey
  137. Mindy Goose, a charity trustee
  138. Moira Walker, Glasgow
  139. Nic Burne, Trustee & Volunteer, Doncaster Conversation Club
  140. Nic Lee
  141. Nick Harborne, CEO, Refugee Support Group (Berkshire)
  142. Nicola Crean, Admin -Maslow’s Community
  143. Nicola Somerville, Medical Student University of St Andrews
  144. Nikki Walters, Chair, Southampton Action
  145. Oky Lee-Morris, Executive Director, The Cotton Tree Trust (London)
  146. Oliver Urpi, Operations Manager - Meta
  147. Orla Craig
  148. Owen Temple, Chair, No To Hassockfield Campaign
  149. Pat Raerty, Scottish Secretary, Unite the Union,
  150. Patricia Cassidy
  151. Patricia McRobbie, Psychotherapist and Refugee Host
  152. Patrick Hort, Managing Director
  153. Paul Sweeney MSP, Glasgow
  154. Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts
  155. Perdita Heller, UASC Foster Carer and refugee host
  156. Perpetua Kirby, Department of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex,
  157. Phil Harris, TD12
  158. Pinar Aksu, Maryhill Integration Network
  159. Pippa Kendall Women Refugees Into Work
  160. Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  161. Pouneh Ahari, Research and Policy Ocer, ASIRT
  162. Rachel Ewing refugee host
  163. Rachel Whitehouse, ESOL Tutor/Project Lead English For All UK (Newcastle
  164. Raymond Kilpatrick
  165. Reiner Tegtmeyer
  166. Rend Platings, CEO Mums4Ukraine
  167. Rev David McLachlan, Church of Scotland
  168. Rev Dr Robert Calvert Church of Scotland
  169. Revd Len Abrams, Priest, Church of England
  170. Roger Bilham
  171. Roger van Schaick, Host Nottingham
  172. Rosamund Dakin, retired teacher and refugee host
  173. Ruba Sulaiman Khaled, RAPAR, Human Rights Organisation
  174. Rupert Page, Refugee Host
  175. Ruth MacLeod, refugee host
  176. Ruth McGlynn, Activist
  177. Ryan Doherty & Cara Gibney, Starling Collective, Belfast
  178. Sarah McCulloch, University of Strathclyde/ Learning Network West.
  179. Sarah Methven Bristol Reporting Solidarity
  180. Sarah Nansukkusa UCRA London
  181. Seema Sood
  182. Serena Fasso, solicitor
  183. Shruti Jain, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Saheliya
  184. Si Clarke, sci-fi author and refugee host
  185. Simon Beresford-Wylie
  186. Simon Cli
  187. Simon Petty Regional LeadCare4Calais Liverpool
  188. SofiaYu
  189. Sophy Gairdner Bristol Reporting Solidarity
  190. Stephen Rawles, Glasgow
  191. Stephen Sharp Engineer Glasgow
  192. Stephen Smellie, Depute Convenor UNISON Scotland
  193. Steven McCluskey, Bikes for Refugees (Scotland)
  194. Sue Laughlin, People's Health Movement Scotland
  195. Sue Lowe, grandmother and retired teacher
  196. Thomas Martin, Director, City of Sanctuary Sheeld
  197. Tony Clarke, a Postgraduate student at Glasgow University
  198. Tony Openshaw, Alternative Asylum News
  199. Trustees and Leadership, RAPAR
  200. Trustees and members of Thousand 4 1000 CIO,
  201. Unity Centre Glasgow
  202. Vicki Squire, Professor of International Politics, University of Warwick,
  203. Waqar Haque
  204. Will Golding, Connecting Craigmillar
  205. Will Sutclie, Chair, Bradford City of Sanctuary
  206. Zoe Hibell G

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