The Home Office told a charity it made a “massive error” by dumping asylum seekers from the Manston processing centre dumped at London’s Victoria station without accommodation.
A group of 11 men were driven to Kent on Tuesday as part of a larger group and left at the station, accordingt to the Under One Sky homelessness charity.
Danial Abbas, from the charity, said the men from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq were “highly distressed, disorientated” and left with “nowhere to go”.
Mr Abbas 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.”
He said: “I personally was in touch with a gentleman from the Home Office that whole evening. Very quickly a solution was found. 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’.”
The charity leader said the group dumped in London were eventually taken to a hotel in Norwich. The men, were all wearing identity bracelets with QR codes on their wrists.
It comes as 14 councils in Kent and Medway said hundreds of Albanians from Manston were being “dropped at mid-Kent train stations with no follow up where they go”.
The councils wrote to home secretary Suella Braverman warned that Kent was at “breaking point” and said people released from Manston were people dumped at local train stations.
The councils said they knew of outbreaks of shigella, coronavirus, diphtheria, scabies and hepatitis at Manston – and warned that “far-right activity” was growing at sites housing migrants.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick admitted about 3,500 people remained at the Manston facility on Wednesday night – despite its maximum capacity of 1,600 – as his boss faced questions over what will be done to address overcrowding.
Mr Jenrick also suggested the current situation at Manston may be neither humane nor legal – telling Sky News’ The Take with Sophy Ridge he expects it “will be returned to a well-functioning and certainly legally compliant site very rapidly”.
Speaking to ITV’s Peston, he said: “We’re procuring more hotels in all parts of the country … 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.”
Minister Graham Stuart also conceded on Thursday that the Manston asylum processing centre in Kent is not operating legally.
Asked whether he was happy that asylum seekers were being detained illegally, he told Sky News: “Obviously not. None of us are comfortable with it. We want it tackled, we want to get a grip, that’s exactly what the home secretary is focused on.”
Mr Jenrick also confirmed the government had received “initial contact for a judicial review” legal case over conditions at Manston, but could not comment on who was behind the challenge for legal reasons.
The minister said the move was “not unusual” as it concerned a “highly litigious area of policy”.
Ms Braverman was also under fire from the prime minister of Albania, who accused Britain of becoming like a “madhouse” with a culture of “finding scapegoats” during a migration crisis where “failed policies” are to blame.
Edi Rama lashed out at Ms Braverman’s “crazy” choice of language in a combative Commons debate this week, in which she claimed there is an “invasion”, claiming that she was “fuelling xenophobia”.
Sources steered away from reports the home secretary is now considering alternative destinations to Rwanda under the UK’s controversial migrant deportation scheme – with possible options said to include Paraguay, Peru and Belize.
Meanwhile, four parliamentary committee chiefs piled further pressure on Ms Braverman 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.