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UK minister Priti Patel considered sending migrants to South Atlantic islands, report says Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

UK minister Priti Patel considered sending migrants to South Atlantic islands, report says

Priti Patel instructed officials to explore the idea of using the islands [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 September, 2020

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The idea has been slammed by the UK's official opposition party as 'inhumane'.

The UK's home secretary explored the possibility of sending asylum seekers to islands some 4,000 miles away from the the country, according to reports.

The suggestion of sending migrants to the Ascension Island and St Helena, isolated volcanic islands located in the South Atlantic, came up during a brainstorming session involving civil servants working under Home Seretary Priti Patel, according to The Financial Times

Patel had asked officials to investigate how other countries manage immigration systems, including that of Australia, where asylum seekers are sent to offshore centres.

The idea has been slammed by the UK's opposition as "inhumane."

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

Another Labour MP, Zarah Sultana, described the idea as an "utterly heartless way to treat desperate people".

A UK Home Office source was quoted by Sky News as saying: "As ministers have said we are developing plans to reform policies and laws around illegal migration and asylum to ensure we are able to provide protection to those who need it, while preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it."

Read also: Priti Patel's toxic xenophobia is the real enemy, not migrants on a dinghy at sea

Immigration remains a contentious issue in the UK, which in recent years has struggled with the legacy of a Brexit vote that was largely influenced by concerns about the country's border controls.

The issue has received increased attention in recent months as thousands of asylum seekers attempt the perilous journey across the English Channel.

More than 5,000 people have undertaken the journey this year, mostly on small and inflatable boats.

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