Arohi Island: Preeti Patel considers outpost for UK asylum center

Two Boats Village and Sisters Peak on Ascension IslandImage copyright
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The government has considered building a refuge processing center on a remote Britain area in the Atlantic Ocean.

A source said that people are seeing the idea of ​​”offshoring” but finding a suitable location will be important.

Home Secretary Preeti Patel asked officials to look into asylum policies that were successful in other countries, the BBC has been told.

The Financial Times states that Ascension Island was a suggested place more than 4,000 miles (6,000 km) from the UK.

The Foreign Office is understood to have made an assessment for the Ascension – which included the practicality of migrating thousands of miles to the island across the island – and decided not to proceed.

However, a Home Ministry source said that the minister is “looking at every option that can stop small boats and fix the asylum system”.

“Britain has a long and proud history of harboring those who need protection. Tens of thousands of people have rebuilt their lives in the UK and we will continue to provide safe and legal avenues in the future.

“As ministers have stated, we are developing a plan to improve policies and laws around illegal migration and asylum to ensure that we prevent the misbehavior of the system and the crimes associated with it, who need it Is able to provide them security. ”

No final decision has been made.

‘Logical nightmare’

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “This strange idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive – so it seems completely plausible that this Tory government came up with it.”

Alan Nichols, a member of the Ascension Island Council, said that asylum seekers in British overseas territory more than 4,000 miles would have a “logistic nightmare” and would not be well received by the islanders.

He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the presence of military bases on the island could make the concept “prohibitive” due to security concerns.

Australia has controversially used offshore processing and detention centers for asylum seekers since the 1980s.

A United Nations refugee agency representative from Britain, Rosella Pagliucci-Lore, said the proposal would dissolve the obligations of UK refugees and change “what Britain is – its history and its value”.

Speaking to the UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, he said that the Australian model had “brought about a great deal of suffering for people who are not more guilty than seeking asylum, and also huge amounts of money” Costs “.

Ascension Island Key Facts

  • The volcanic island has no indigenous population, and the people living there – fewer than 1,000 – are employees and families of organizations working on the island
  • The military airbase is jointly operated by the RAF and the US, and is used as a staging post for the supply and rescue of the Falkland Islands.
  • Its first human settlers arrived in 1815, when the Royal Navy camped to keep an eye on Napoleon, who was imprisoned on the island of St. Helena, about 800 miles away.
  • It is a BBC transmitter – the BBC Atlantic Relay Station – which sends shortwave radio to Africa and South America

The proposal comes this month amid a record number of migrants traveling in small boats from the English Channel to the UK, which Ms. Patel has vowed to stop.

Conservative MP Laura Trott of Sevenoaks in Kent said it was “absolutely right” that the government was looking at offshore asylum centers to “ease the pressure” on Kent, who was “unable to care for any more children”.

To be eligible for asylum in the UK, applicants must prove that they cannot return to their home country, as they fear persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Asylum seekers cannot work while their claims are being processed, so the government only offers them a daily allowance of £ 5 and housing, often in hostels or shared flats.

Delays in processing UK asylum applications increased significantly in the last three months of 2019 last year with four out of five applicants awaiting six months or more in their cases.

Compared with three during the same period in 2018.

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