Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 00:33 GMT 01:33 UK
Immigrant influx 'must stop'
11 people were injured in clashes at a funfair
A Home Office minister has said that the flow of asylum seekers into the UK must be stopped.
Lord Bassam said the UK Government was working with other European countries to try to stem the number of illegal immigrants - believed to be eastern Europeans - after outbreaks of violence in Dover.
Eleven people were injured in a series of incidents on Friday and Saturday between immigrants and residents in the Kent port.
Eight people required hospital treatment for stab wounds. Three people were arrested, and bailed pending further inquiries.
Lord Bassam said he believed Dover's problems were caused by asylum seekers being "dumped" there without adequate support.
Describing the current situation as "intolerable", he said: "We need to prevent the large numbers of asylum seekers coming here that have in the past."
Kent County Council says most of the asylum seekers in Dover are Afghans and Kurds.
The government's Immigration and Asylum Bill, currently making its way through parliament, contains measures aimed at accelerating the dispersal of immigrants and processing their claims for sanctuary.
It includes measures to split refugees into smaller groups and spread them across the country. Cash handouts will be replaced with vouchers for food and essential items.
She said: "The leader of Kent County Council wrote to [Home Secretary] Jack Straw weeks ago and said 'iIn Kent we have a tinder box'.
"That should have sounded alarm bells everywhere. It didn't. The government did nothing."
BBC Radio 4's World at One programme asked him whether hundreds of asylum seekers should be staying in Dover, and if they were in the "wrong place".
The county's police have now introduced a "highly visible" presence at the funfair in Pencester Gardens, due to close on Monday, where the violence began.
It had "very rapidly escalated" into scenes never before witnessed in Dover, he said.
Up to 5,000 refugees are estimated to be in Kent and about 1,000 in Dover, which has a total population of 25,000.