UK Asylum Seekers: Ascension Island Transfer?


The Conservative government of Rishi Sunak as part of efforts to deter illegal immigration across the Channel is considering moving asylum seekers to Ascension Island, a remote British overseas territory in the South Atlantic, should the plan, currently stalled, to send them to Rwanda according to the agreement with the African country.

As we read in the Times, this is part of a “plan B” which has been discussed by ministers and officials in the face of the difficulties encountered by the controversial solutions sought in recent months to “stop the landings”, a priority of the Tory executive. Among the options is to have overseas territories, such as Ascension Island, spend the period in which the asylum application in the UK is assessed.

Meanwhile today, according to the BBC, the first 50 migrants are transferred aboard the Bibby Stockholm, a mega accommodation boat recently acquired amid controversy by the government and intended to house up to 500 asylum seekers to be detained at sea awaiting possible expulsion. This is despite repeated warnings about the safety of the maxi barge moored off the coast of Dorset, southern England, including that of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), the union of the firefighters.

But the Home Office guaranteed that the boat respects all the rules and stressed that in the past it had hosted workers in the oil and gas sector, as well as asylum seekers in other countries. Initiatives against illegal immigration also concern the introduction of heavy fines for British people who allow “illegal migrants” to work for them or rent accommodation. Those who offer accommodation risk having to pay a fine of up to 5,000 pounds, compared to only 80 previously envisaged.

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