UK plans 'sharing immigration centre in Africa with Denmark'
The UK Home Office will propose legislation next week that will allow for asylum seekers to be sent to an offshore immigration centre, according to media reports
The new laws - which are part of the Nationality and Borders Bill - will be introduced by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel following reported talks between the UK and Denmark over sharing an asylum processing centre in Africa, according to The Times.
Danish authorities recently signed an agreement with the Rwandan government in May allowing for enhanced cooperation on migration and asylum, which would potentially lead to migrants being sent to the African nation said Amnesty International.
It was reported that Home Office ministers and Danish officials discussed "how the Danish government managed... laws domestically, their negotiations with third countries and the 'potential' to share a processing centre abroad", The Times reported.
The Home Office told The New Arab there are no plans with Denmark to have an offshore immigration centre in Africa.
However, in their New Plan for Immigration, published March 2021, the department said they will "keep the option [of offshore centres] open, if required in the future".
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Patel have "warmed to the idea" of the immigration centres after other solutions looked "increasingly doubtful", said The Times.
Humanitarian workers and MPs have slammed the proposals.
"No matter what we look like or where we come from, everyone needs to feel safe. But Priti Patel’s proposal for offshore asylum processing centres in Rwanda is ludicrously impractical and just as cruel," said Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture Sonya Sceats in a statement sent to The New Arab.
The idea has been compared to Australia's policy of building overseas immigration centres in places such as Papua New Guinea, as part of the country's zero-tolerance approach to illegal immigration.
"I grew up in Australia," said Sonya. "I know too well the harm done when politicians seek to warehouse people seeking asylum in the developing world and scapegoat them for political ends."
Ian Blackford MP from the Scottish National Party tweeted: "If Priti Patel wants to send asylum seekers to Rwanda she will have a fight on her hands. Not in our name. We treat people with respect and dignity."
In 2020, 29 percent of asylum applications were made by individuals coming from countries in the Middle East, according to data from the UK government.
While the number of asylum applications has fallen, from around 35,000 in 2019 to just below 30,000 in 2020, there has been an increase in migrants travelling across the English Chanel in small boats recently, according to government data.
The Home Office’s New Plan for Immigration will judge migrants claiming asylum based on the route taken to the UK, with those using illegal routes facing penalisation.
In a statement sent to this news organisation, the Home Office said: “Our asylum system is broken and we cannot sit idly by while people die attempting to cross the Channel. Our New Plan for Immigration will welcome people through safe and legal routes, whilst preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it.”