‘Not one country’ interested in hosting offshore asylum sites

Thursday, Nov 25, 2021

LONDON: Not a single country has shown an interest in hosting offshore processing centres for asylum seekers under the government’s immigration plans, a Home Office minister has admitted.

Kevin Foster, the minister for future borders and immigration, conceded the government is yet to find a nation keen to sign up to the widely criticised plan. Home Secretary Priti Patel has proposed that asylum seekers could be sent away from the UK to be processed in the centres overseas, in plans described as “inhumane”.

Countries and territories including Rwanda, Albania, Gibraltar and Ascension Island have been mooted as possible locations for the sites, but the suggestions are often angrily rejected.

Asked if a country has shown serious interest in working with the government on its plan, Foster told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “We haven’t had a country say to what you’ve suggested yet. But certainly we are in conversations with a number of partners, but for obvious reasons I’m not going to get into the details of them.”

Plans for the offshore centres were officially introduced to the Commons in July in the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is making its way through Parliament.

Last week, Albania’s foreign affairs minister, Olta Xhacka, said suggestions the Balkan state could process asylum seekers for the UK was “fake news”. Gibraltar has also rejected suggestions it was in talks with the government as “groundless speculation”.

“Immigration is an area of my responsibility as chief minister under the Gibraltar constitution and I can confirm that this issue has not been raised with me at any level,” Fabian Picardo said in March. “I would have made clear this is not an area on which we believe we can assist the UK.”