Failings at Manston asylum centre mean a public inquiry is needed | Letter

Britain’s reputation has been tarnished by the appalling treatment of asylum seekers at at the centre in Kent, say Enver Solomon and other charity representatives

The UK has always sought to provide sanctuary for those who have fled unimaginable horrors in their home countries. It is one of the values that defines our country. But our reputation has been tarnished by the appalling way in which men, women and children seeking asylum have been treated at the Manston detention centre and the subsequent reports of infectious diseases not being contained (Report, 27 November).

It seems clear that there have been serious failings which have put the health and wellbeing of many people – from those seeking asylum to Home Office staff and others – at risk. The home secretary should now initiate an independent inquiry into what happened at Manston and the wider handling of this issue.

Like the independent Windrush review, it must focus on identifying the key lessons for the Home Office going forward. The delivery of a compassionate and orderly asylum system is a core responsibility of the government. Where it has failed to do so, it must take corrective measures and learn lessons to ensure it does things differently in the future.

Enver Solomon CEO, Refugee Council, Laura Kyrke-Smith Executive director, International Rescue Committee UK, Kirsty McNeil Executive director of policy, advocacy and campaigns, Save the Children, Dr Shabna Begum Head of research, Runnymede Trust, Josie Naughton CEO and co-founder of Choose Love

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