WARNING: Contains images that some may find distressing
A group of asylum seekers transferred from an overcrowded processing centre to hotel accommodation have told The News Movement they're suffering with scabies-like symptoms and have had little or no medical help.
Ibrahim*, an asylum seeker from Iraq, who spent 20 days at the migrant centre showed us the red spots that have spread across his upper leg which is causing him to itch - resembling the symptoms of scabies.
The asylum seeker described being held at Manston asylum processing centre in Kent, UK. We have verified his account.
The centre has been criticised for its “appalling” and “wretched” conditions - including outbreaks of diphtheria and scabies.
He said he had itching symptoms at the Manston processing site and, despite asking for a tablet or cream, he was not given any help to relieve his symptoms.
“Four days, five days, I say give me one tablet for my itch[y] body. Anybody, no give me,” he said.
“I [did not] see anything. I need [a] tablet, I need cream, this [will be] gone.”
According to previous reports, scabies - a skin condition caused by tiny mites burrowing into your skin - was widespread at Manston.
The NHS website says symptoms of scabies include intense itching, especially at night and a raised rash or spots.
The Iraqi asylum seeker said he shared a large tent in Manston with around 200 people and had to sleep on the floor.
The centre has been in the spotlight due to the poor conditions that have been reported there, including overcrowding and safety concerns.
At one point there were around 4,000 people held at the centre, which is designed for no more than 1,600.
People are only meant to be held at the Manston centre for 24 hours before being moved to immigration detention centres or asylum accommodation - which are currently hotels.
The asylum seekers we spoke to had spent around 20 days at the Manston centre before being relocated to a hotel.
The Iraqi asylum seeker, who is now staying in hotel accommodation in the south of England, is just one of several who told us they are suffering with itchy skin.
One asylum seeker from Afghanistan, Ali*, said: “I stay[ed] in the Manston camp [for] 20 days.”
He described the situation there as “very bad” and compared the asylum processing centre to a jail.
“All people [have] problems, health problems,” he said.
When asked whether he saw people with itchy skin symptoms at Manston, the asylum seeker said it was a “big problem” which left one person struggling to walk. He also showed us the red marks in between his fingers.
The asylum seeker said he only received medical support in Manston “sometimes”.
Other asylum seekers did not want to speak to us on camera but they showed us their ongoing symptoms including clusters of scabs and sores across their legs and feet.
All of the asylum seekers we spoke to had crossed the English Channel in small boats. More than 40,000 people have made the dangerous crossing so far this year.
The Iraqi asylum seeker described there being different extremist groups in Iraq which forced him to leave as, he said, there is “no life” there.
The Afghan asylum seeker fled the country around six months ago due to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
In response to our findings, the Home Office said they are aware of a very small number of cases of scabies reported at Manston which have now been treated.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the safety and welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and are working closely with our providers and the UK Health Security Agency to ensure their wellbeing.
“The Home Office provides 24/7 health facilities at Manston, including trained medical staff and a doctor – to suggest otherwise is wrong and misleading.”
They said it does not get into the personal health matters of those in their care and they have robust contingency plans to deal with health issues such as communicable diseases.
The Home Office said they work closely with a range of partners within the community including local authorities and health leads since the development of Manston and continue to do so.