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Leaked Documents Reveal UK Considered Iraq for Asylum Processing in Controversial Rwanda-Style Deal

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Leaked papers reveal that the UK contemplated processing asylum seekers in Iraq, similar to its arrangement with Rwanda. The documents further indicate that there is a discreet, no-publicity repatriation agreement between the UK and Iraq.

Political reporter @serenabarksing

Monday, May 6, 2024, 5:

According to documents reviewed by Sky News, there was a time when the government contemplated handling asylum applications in Iraq, similar to a model used in Rwanda.

This might have resulted in individuals being deported from the UK to a nation that the government recommends avoiding all travel to.

The existing repatriation agreement between the two nations applies solely to Iraqi nationals.

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Based on confidential communications among top officials, the agreements regarding Iraqi returns were arranged with a plea for confidentiality and no public disclosure.

The nation was prepared to progress but preferred to avoid an official or open pact.

The latest travel guidelines on the Foreign Office website recommend avoiding "all travel to certain areas of Iraq". Nevertheless, the document notes that discussions have been considerably progressive and are characterized in one section as "good recent progress with Iraq".

Further Details on Home Office Developments

Convicted sex criminal permitted to remain in the UK – over 50% of challenges to asylum rulings prevail

Hull: A city where numerous asylum seekers slip into invisibility

The Home Office issued 275 sponsorship visas to care workers following an application that was allegedly falsified.

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Additional objectives of the government involved improving collaboration with the Iranian Embassy to better facilitate the process of returning migrants and potential asylum applicants.

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Documentation from the Home Office and Foreign Office indicates that arrangements for repatriation are being formulated for both Eritrea and Ethiopia, focusing on nations from which a significant number of individuals are arriving in the UK via small boats.

Sky News has reviewed a set of internal government papers that reveal Downing Street advisers were aware of significant issues with the Rwanda policy from its inception.

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Confidential sources acknowledge that numerous individuals reaching this destination via small boats managed to do so independently, bypassing criminal networks, contrary to what their public messaging suggests.

Analyses also looked at how Australia dealt with what aides at Downing Street perceived as a less significant issue compared to the UK's, acknowledging that the Australian efforts to streamline their return systems incurred costs amounting to billions of Australian dollars.

Further reading: 38-year-old man detained over involvement in small boat crossings. Sunak claims the Rwanda plan's effectiveness is evident as migrants head to Ireland.

In a submission to the Home Office, top officials from that period indicated that they were advised to be ready to "spend more than usual" to implement the policy swiftly. They also noted that Rwanda's initial proposal was for a "small amount."

Stay informed on the most recent updates from the UK and global events by tuning into Sky News.

The government's financial oversight body in Whitehall has calculated that the expense of relocating the first 300 asylum seekers to Rwanda will amount to £1.8 million for each individual deported to Kigali.

The statement revealed that from April 2022, the Home Office has contributed £220 million to Rwanda’s economic transformation and integration fund. This fund aims to bolster Rwanda's economic development. It was also noted that the Home Office will persist in funding the expenses associated with the asylum processing and the operational costs for those transferred to Rwanda.

Additionally, it will disburse £50 million over the coming year and another £50 million in the subsequent year.

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A source from the government stated: "Each day, the Home Office expends millions to house migrants in hotels, which is neither just nor equitable. We are initiating measures to terminate this expensive and perilous routine. Inaction carries its own costs – we need to intervene to halt the boat crossings and preserve lives."

"The UK remains actively engaged with various global allies to address the worldwide issue of unauthorized migration. Our innovative collaboration with Rwanda aims to confront this issue head-on, and we anticipate initiating flights to Rwanda within the next nine to eleven weeks."

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