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45,000 Migrants Spark Crackdown as Britain Mulls Sending Asylum Seekers Abroad

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The British government at one point considered using Iraq to process asylum seekers in a scheme similar to its controversial Rwanda policy, according to leaked documents seen by Sky News.

According to The Independent, The documents reveal the UK government explored the Middle Eastern country as an option to handle asylum seeker claims, much like the existing agreement with Rwanda in East Africa.

Despite the UK Foreign Office advising against all travel to Iraq except the northern Kurdistan region due to safety concerns, the documents describe “good recent progress” in negotiations between British and Iraqi officials on the proposal.

It is reported that both nations already have a returns agreement in place, allowing the UK to deport rejected Iraqi asylum seekers back to either federal Iraq or the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The revelations come just days after the UK deported its first failed asylum seeker to Rwanda under a new voluntary scheme, separate from the planned forcible removals.

A government source told Sky News the Home Office is “spending millions every day accommodating migrants in hotels – that’s not right or fair. We’re taking action to put an end to this costly and dangerous cycle. Doing nothing is not a free option – we must act if we want to stop the boats and save lives.”

The long-debated legislation enabling the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda became law in late April, paving the way for thousands to potentially be removed in the coming weeks.

In January 2022, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated tackling illegal small boat crossings of the English Channel was a top priority, with over 45,000 migrants arriving that way in 2022.

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The documents also show the UK has been working on similar returns agreements with Eritrea and Ethiopia, major source countries for Channel migrants.

The UK-Rwanda deal, announced in April 2022, stated the East African nation would process asylum claims from those arriving illegally in Britain. Successful applicants would be granted refugee status in Rwanda, not the UK.

However, the policy has faced fierce opposition from human rights groups and legal challenges over Rwanda’s human rights record and capacity to properly assess asylum cases.

In November 2023, the UK Supreme Court ruled the original Rwanda scheme unlawful, citing risks of refoulement – where refugees are returned to places they face persecution.

The new legislation aims to override this ruling by compelling British judges to treat Rwanda as safe, regardless of evidence, and disregarding certain domestic and international laws.

Rights groups have vowed to launch fresh legal challenges once deportation flights commence, potentially within weeks according to the government.

The United Nations warned the new law “marks a further step away from the UK’s long tradition of providing refuge” and breaches the Refugee Convention.

Costs are also a major issue, with the UK already paying Rwanda £240 million by end-2023. Each person deported could cost up to £150,000 initially.

While the Conservative government hopes the policy deters Channel crossings, critics argue it does little to address the backlog of over 100,000 asylum claims awaiting processing in the UK.

Opposition parties have pledged to scrap the Rwanda plan if elected, though the scale of the challenge in clearing existing claims is not yet clear.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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