Police arrest 15 after violent protest outside UK refugee hotel

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Fire burns outside a hotel providing refuge to asylum seekers following a protest in Knowsley [Courtesy of Tony Broster via Reuters]

The incident comes after increase in numbers of refugees and asylum seekers crossing the Channel to the UK in boats.

Police have arrested 15 people after an anti-refugee demonstration outside a hotel used to house asylum seekers turned violent near the English city of Liverpool.

The Merseyside Police department said a police officer and two civilians sustained minor injuries during the disturbance on Friday night in Knowsley.

The police force said some protesters threw objects and set a police van on fire. The people arrested, who ranged in age from 13 to 54, were detained “following violent disorder.”

Merseyside police commissioner Emily Spurrell told Radio City, “It was incredibly dangerous and there were a couple of injuries amongst the police officers.”

The Home Office has been using the hotel to temporarily house asylum seekers since last year, according to local media.

George Howarth, who represents Knowsley in the UK Parliament, said the violence on Friday night did not reflect the community.

“The people of Knowsley are not bigots and are welcoming to people escaping from some of the most dangerous places in the world in search of a place of safety,” he said. “Those demonstrating against refugees at this protest tonight do not represent this community.”

The protest took place amid heightened tensions as growing numbers of refugees and migrants cross the Channel in small boats.

More than 45,000 people reached the UK by that route in 2022, and most applied for asylum.

The system for considering asylum applications has slowed to a crawl because of political turmoil and bureaucratic delays, leaving many asylum seekers stuck in hotels or other temporary accommodations.

The Channel crossings have become a political issue, with the Conservative government promising to “stop the boats” and pursuing a plan to send such asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Opponents have accused the government of demonising desperate people fleeing war and poverty.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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