An outcry has trailed UK government’s proposal of processing asylum-seekers on a remote volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean more than 4,000 miles (6,435 kilometers) from the U.K.
The Financial Times in its report on Wednesday September 30, said British Home Secretary Priti Patel ordered officials to explore plans for building an asylum processing center on Ascension Island, a British overseas territory with a population of under 1,000. The report said Patel later appeared to have dropped the plan.
Another option said to have been considered was to construct an asylum centre on St Helena, another island in the group where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
Following the arrival of thousands of people seeking asylum in the U.K through the English Channel, Patel had pledged to make the route ‘unviable’ and has appointed a former Royal Marine to the new role of “clandestine Channel threat commander.”
Reacting to the report, the Home Office did not deny that the idea of transferring asylum seekers to remote islands had been considered.
The statement read;
“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.”
Ascension Island, which is used as a staging post to supply and defend the Falkland Islands, has an RAF base and population of fewer than 1,000. Moving asylum seekers there and keeping them supplied was said to represent a considerable logistical challenge.
The proposal appears to further reflect the influence of Australia which has used offshore processing and detention centres for asylum seekers since the 1980s, on UK’s immigration and asylum policy.