0733 GMT July 05, 2022
Patel made her comments in a conference call with Conservative MPs concerned about the recent surge in numbers attempting the voyage in small boats, the Guardian reported.
One man in Dunkirk told the Guardian he had recently received injuries to his hands after French police beat him.
Another man who has reached the UK said he was struck in the face, causing injuries to his eyes.
“I was beaten very badly by the French police. I have some injuries to my eyes and I’m still suffering from these injuries,” he said. “The French police are very bad for asylum seekers.”
Clare Moseley, of Care4Calais, a charity that works with many asylum seekers in northern France, expressed concern about some of the French police’s treatment of asylum seekers that she had witnessed. “The police seem to be a law unto themselves,” she said. “It’s the culture I find so shocking.”
A number of asylum seekers have said one of their reasons for crossing the Channel was to escape police violence, which is especially traumatic for those who have survived torture in their home countries. Another reason cited was the long delay after making an asylum claim before they receive accommodation or support.
Orsi Hardi, of the Taise Community, which supports and cares for many asylum seekers who congregate in northern France, said many believed reaching the UK was their last chance to find safety after a difficult journey through mainland Europe.
“The only way to stay in France at the moment is to claim asylum, and the system is overloaded, which makes it very inhuman during the time when people are waiting to get accommodation and support,” she said.
The Guardian has learned that more people who crossed the Channel in small boats were rounded up by the UK Home Office on Thursday and Friday and placed in Brook House immigration detention center near Gatwick airport.
More than a dozen of them say they have gone on hunger strike. The men, who have come from a variety of conflict zones including Yemen and Sudan, say they would rather die in the UK than be sent back to France or other European countries.
Speaking from Brook House, one man who is refusing food told the Guardian, “I am a dead person in detention.”
Nobody who has been arrested and detained in the last few days has been given a ticket for a new removal flight, but the large number of arrests suggests more removals are likely soon. The Home Office is not supposed to detain people unless there is an imminent prospect of removing them.
One man from Yemen said he had tried to claim asylum in Spain and had been told he would have to wait more than a year sleeping in the streets before his claim could be processed, so he decided to try to reach the UK.
“My journey was terrible. I crossed many countries — Mauritania, Mali, where traffickers wanted to sell me as a slave, Algeria, Morocco. I crossed the desert. I spent 12 hours in the sea when I crossed the Channel in a small boat in March. I thought I would freeze to death but I was rescued by the Border Force. I’m sending my voice to the public. This is the last opportunity to tell people what has happened to us on our journey and what is happening to us now in detention.”