Times: UK, Armenia hold talks on sending illegal migrants to Armenia

    WORLD  15 April 2024 - 10:00

    The United Kingdom has started talks with four countries that could receive illegal migrants expelled from the country, The Times newspaper reported, citing documents of the British Foreign Office.

    According to the newspaper, these countries are Armenia, Botswana, Ivory Coast and Costa Rica. London expects to conclude with them an agreement analogous to the one signed between the UK and Rwanda. The question of possible cooperation with Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Ecuador was also raised, but the Foreign Office believes that the authorities of these countries will not be very interested in it. There is a reserve list of African states, including Angola, Cape Verde, Tanzania, Togo, Senegal and Sierra Leone, with which the UK side can start a dialogue. Gambia, Morocco, Namibia and Tunisia refused to discuss the issue.

    The newspaper recalled that for a year and a half the UK has been looking for countries that would be willing to accept illegal migrants expelled from it. The country's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hoped to conclude the relevant agreements last fall, but the negotiations have stalled because the British authorities have not yet managed to send a single illegal immigrant to Rwanda.

    As the newspaper points out, London began technical negotiations with Yerevan last September, when Deputy Minister of State Leo Docherty visited Armenia. The Armenian authorities are reportedly monitoring the development of the situation around Rwanda after the British Parliament voted in favour of the new law. The agreement between London and Kigali implies that illegal migrants expelled from the UK will be able to apply for asylum in Rwanda, rather than being sent back to their home countries, where they may be in danger.

    Illegal migrants issue in UK

    The British authorities have been trying for several years to solve the problem of illegal immigrants smuggled into the country by organized criminal groups. The Conservative government hopes that the prospect of deportation to Rwanda will make the UK less attractive to illegal immigrants from Albania, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria, who make up the majority of those entering the UK illegally by sea from France.

    Sky News TV has calculated that since 2018, more than 100,000 illegals have arrived in the country on rubber dinghies across the English Channel and applied for asylum. The total number of such applications exceeds 175,000. While their applications are being considered, the refugees are housed in special migration centres, but there has long been a shortage of places. According to the Times, supporting illegal immigrants costs British taxpayers about 4 billion pounds ($5 billion) a year.

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