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United Kingdom: blockades to thwart the expulsion of migrants to Rwanda

Asylum seekers' advocates are mobilizing in the United Kingdom to prevent the arrests or transfers of migrants and thwart the plans of the Conservative government, which intends to deport many migrants. starting this summer thousands of them to Rwanda.

Parliament passed a controversial law on April 23 aimed at sending irregular migrants to Rwanda where their asylum applications will be considered, without the possibility of them returning to the United Kingdom, whatever the outcome.

Rishi Sunak's government wants to begin these expulsions within nine to eleven weeks and has started arresting migrants in recent days, in operations which have sparked a wave of concern among migrants and the associations that support them.

On Thursday, dozens of people gathered outside a hotel in the Peckham district of south London to block a bus which was to transport migrants to the Bibby Stockholm, a barge moored in Portland Harbor in Dorset, where hundreds of asylum seekers are already housed.

During for several hours, they prevented the vehicle from leaving, in particular by forming a circle around it and opposing the police, noted an AFP journalist.

Forty-five people in total were arrested and taken into custody, in particular for obstructing the road, refusing to comply and for violence against the police, none of whom was seriously injured, announced Scotland Yard.

The street “is completely blocked by people resisting the transfer” of migrants. “There are far more of us than the police. They won't go anywhere,” said the SOAS Detainee Support association, which helps migrants, on X.

According to the British news agency PA, the asylum seekers were taken off the bus and were not transferred.

In recent days other similar gatherings have taken place, in London, Glasgow or near Nottingham, near the immigration centers of the Ministry of the Interior, where migrants and asylum seekers regularly have meetings. you and in front of the hotels where some are staying.

United Kingdom: blockades to thwart the expulsion of migrants to Rwanda

Police officers arrest protesters gathered around a bus waiting to transport migrants and asylum seekers from a hotel in Peckham, south London, to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, south Dorset. West of England, May 2, 2024 © AFP – HENRY NICHOLLS

In Margate in Kent, where migrants were also to be transferred to Bibby Stockholm, demonstrators managed to push back the government, after blocking the departure of buses chartered for their transport last week.

“Margate is ready to defend its own residents,” said its mayor Rob Yates, who also opposed the transfer of migrants.

These actions are “completely unacceptable”, a Downing Street spokesperson responded on Thursday.

“We will not let a small group of students, posing for social networks, prevent us from doing what is right for the British people,” British Interior Minister James Cleverly also reacted on X. < /p>

– Record crossings –

These operations come at a time when the number of Channel crossings by migrants has broken a historic record in the first four months of 2024, with more than 8,000 arrivals on the English coast.

United Kingdom: blockades to thwart the expulsion of migrants to Rwanda

Police officers escort a bus believed to be taking migrants and asylum seekers from a hotel in Peckham, south London, to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, southwest during a protest of England, May 2, 2024 © AFP – HENRY NICHOLLS

On Wednesday, 711 migrants arrived there on 14 small boats, a record for a single day since the start of the year, while 66 others, including women and children, were rescued offshore from Dieppe, France, their boat having been in difficulty.

The British government has made the end of these crossings a priority, a few months before the legislative elections, and insists in particular on the dissuasive nature of the law allowing expulsions to Rwanda.

He said he hoped to expel “by the end of the year” an already identified group of 5,700 people, despite calls from the UN or the Council of Europe to abandon its project.

A union of senior civil servants, the FDA, has also filed an appeal, considering that the new law exposes civil servants to breaching international law if, as the text provides, the British government decides to ignore a possible ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against the expulsions.

A first migrant was deported to Rwanda on Monday, according to British media, but as part of another program, based on voluntary service.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116