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Priti Patel ‘explored shipping asylum seekers to South Atlantic volcanic island to be processed’

‘This ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive’, shadow minister says

Vincent Wood
Wednesday 30 September 2020 10:02 BST
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Home secretary Priti Patel ordered officials to look into the possibility of building an asylum processing centre on Ascension
Home secretary Priti Patel ordered officials to look into the possibility of building an asylum processing centre on Ascension (EPA)

Priti Patel ordered Home Office officials to look into building an asylum processing centre on a South Atlantic island more than 6,400 km (4,000 miles) from the UK, according to reports.

Officials were told to look into the possibility of sending those seeking refuge in the country to the remote volcanic overseas territory of Ascension Island - The Financial Times reports - a land mass inhabited by fewer than a thousand people that is geographically closer to Brazil than Great Britain.

The policy is reminiscent of that of Australia’s 2001 Pacific Solution initiative, where asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country were held in detention centres on Nauru and Manus Islands in Papua New Guinea .

According to the report an asylum centre on St Helena, another island in the group where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, was also considered.

As well as home office officials the Foreign Office was also consulted on the proposals, according to the paper, providing an assessment on the practicalities of shipping those seeking refuge to the distant locations.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote on Twitter: “This ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive. So it seems entirely plausible this Tory government came up with it.”

He added: “It’s a disgraceful proposal to put forward - and if it turns out to be true, we’ll oppose it all the way”.

A Home Office official said: "The UK has a long and proud history of offering refuge to 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 routes in the future.

"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."

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