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15 Syrians facing deportation from UK to Rwanda on hunger strike

June 1, 2022 at 11:29 am

Migrants are brought ashore by a RNLI lifeboat in Dover, UK on 23 May 2022 [Stuart Brock/Anadolu Agency]

Fifteen Syrians have been served with a removal notice informing them they will be sent to Rwanda under British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s controversial new deportation scheme.

According to an Instagram post by Syrian refugee and author Hassan Akkad all 15 Syrians are currently on hunger strike.

Patel announced earlier this week that the first deportation flight to Rwanda is scheduled to leave on 14 June, as “the final administrative step” in its partnership with Rwanda.

The Home Office said that they have started issuing removal direction letters for the people who are being sent to Rwanda.

In May it was reported that Patel had served the first group of refugees crossing the English Channel with an official note to say they are “under consideration” for relocation to Rwanda to claim asylum.

Earlier this year the Home Office announced that it planned to send some refugees arriving in the UK to Rwanda whilst their claims were being processed.

The scheme is set to cost £120 million ($150 million) which Britain will pay Rwanda for accommodation, processing and support.

READ: UK serves refugees with official notice they are ‘under consideration’ for deportation to Rwanda

Human rights advocates have raised concerns about the fact that refugees’ data will be shared with the Rwandan government, which has committed its own human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch has documented how the government has put pressure on its own refugee communities, has forcibly disappeared or even killed its own government dissidents and commits torture in detention centres.

In 2018, the Rwandan police killed several Congolese refugees who were demonstrating against a cut in food provided to them by the UN.

The government is adopting the Rwandan policy as a deterrent against refugees who arrive in the UK from France after crossing the English Channel. In March alone, more than 3,000 people arrived.

The Channel is the busiest shipping lane in the world and has extremely strong currents. In November last year 27 people drowned, including a pregnant woman and three children after their inflatable dingy capsized.

Whilst human rights groups and charities have called on the British government to provide safer routes for refugees and migrants crossing the English Channel, the government has consistently sought to crackdown on migrants arriving in the UK.

New powers given to the UK under the Nationality and Borders Bill will make it easier for refugees to be sent abroad for processing.