UK could send asylum seekers to 'Gibraltar, Turkey': report

UK could send asylum seekers to 'British islands, Turkey, Gibraltar': report
3 min read
18 March, 2021
UK home secretary Priti Patel is reportedly considering Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Turkey as possible locations for overseas processing facilities for asylum seekers.
The Conservative government has repeatedly promised to end illegal crossings [Getty]

The UK is evaluating plans that would see asylum seekers who arrive in the country taken overseas to be processed, similar to the controversial model used by Australia, according to reports by The Guardian.

The scheme would see asylum seekers who reach British shores via unofficial means - such as crossing the English Channel in small boats - taken to another country where they would be housed and their claims processed. 

Details of the scheme are expected to be laid out next week by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel

The issue of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats has been a thorn in the side of the Conservative government and they have repeatedly promised to respond to the issue. 

"Whilst people are dying making perilous journeys we would be irresponsible if we didn't consider every avenue," one Home Office source told The Guardian. 

The scheme would mirror an Australian system that sent migrants who arrived by boats to an island detention facility for processing. 

The Australian scheme has been plagued by scandal, including reports of violent deaths, abuses, mass protests, and appalling acts of self-harm. 

It was rumoured that Turkey, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man or other British islands were considered as possible sites to send the asylum seekers, but a source told The Guardian that this was "all speculation".

Responding to reports about the processing of migrants, Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said they had not been approached by the UK government, and also added that the area is not capable of such an undertaking. 

"We will not ever shirk out responsibility to help where we can. Our geography makes some things difficult, however, and the processing of asylum seekers to the UK in Gibraltar would be one of them," said Picardo.

Chief Minister of the Isle of Man Howard Quayle told MailOnline that he believed the idea to be an early April fools joke. 

Read more: Migration in post-Brexit Britain: How will refugees and asylum seekers be affected?

Turkey has not commented on the reports, but the two countries are seeking to sign a new comprehensive trade deal to complement a free trade agreement signed by the two nations in December. 

Patel has previously considered "off-shoring" the care of asylum seekers. 

In 2020, it was reported that Patel asked whether it would be possible to house migrants on Ascension Island, a volcanic island in the South Atlantic, or St. Helena, another British overseas territory in these waters. 

At the time, the opposition Labour Party described the idea as "inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive".

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