United Kingdom mulled sending asylum-seekers to remote Atlantic island

Elias Hubbard
October 1, 2020

However, Guardian journalists claim the government has been working for weeks on "detailed plans" to process asylum seekers in facilities in countries such as Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea.

Labour MP Zarah Sultana also derided the idea, saying such a plan would be "an utterly heartless way to treat desperate people".

Government sources refused to be drawn on the reports, stating that the United Kingdom was examining how other nations handled migrants with a view to "informing" the British situation.

Asylum seekers intercepted at sea and sent to the camps can never settle in Australia, even if they are found to be genuine refugees.

Some 90 hotels are being used by the Home Office to house migrants being processed, including four-star accommodation under a £4billion outsourcing contract.

In the end, it appears that Ms Patel decided not to go ahead with the scheme, however the Home Office made no attempt to deny that the idea had been considered. In terms of locations you could look at the Shetlands, the Isle of Wight, the Isle of Man, and those sorts of areas.

David Wood, head of enforcement at the Home Office between 2013 and 2015, said overseas processing of asylum applicants was likely to be expensive and unworkable.

Moldovan diplomacy told BIRN that Moldova had not concluded any agreements with foreign partners in this field and was not about to start doing so with Britain.

However, Home Secretary Priti Patel dropped the plan after officials were consulted on the practicality of shipping the asylum seekers to the locations, the FT said.

The option came as a surprise to inhabitants on the volcanic territory 4,000 miles from the UK.

Priti Patel asked officials to explore the possibility of sending migrants more than 4,000 miles away to Ascension Island in the south Atlantic for asylum processing, it has been reported.

But it was also dismissed on Wednesday as an unfeasible, "logistical nightmare" by a member of the Ascension Island Council, Alan Nicholls.

"This ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive - so it seems entirely plausible this Tory government came up with it", Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Labour Party's shadow home secretary tweeted on Wednesday.

Thousands of people have crossed the English Channel this year by small boats to seek asylum in the U.K. Patel has pledged to stop the record number of arrivals and to make the route "unviable", and has appointed a former Royal Marine to the new role of "clandestine Channel threat commander".

The ideas of using the islands to house migrants has drawn parallels to Australia's controversial offshore migrant processing centres, where many have languished for years without being resettled while officials defend the sites as necessary to stop unsafe sea crossings to Australia.

Britain's government has based its post-Brexit points-based immigration system on that developed in Australia.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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