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Protesters in London block coach carrying migrants to Bibby Stockholm barge

May 2, 2024 at 4:50 pm

Metropolitan Police officers (MET) arrest protesters taking part in a gathering around a bus reportedly waiting to remove migrants and asylum seekers from a hotel in Peckham, south London, as they block it from transporting them to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, south-west England, on May 2, 2024. [HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images]

Dozens of protesters on Thursday formed a human chain in the British capital, surrounding a coach taking asylum seekers to the UK’s controversial Bibby Stockholm barge, Anadolu Agency reports.

The protest took place when a coach was sent to Peckham Road to pick up asylum seekers to transfer them to the floating barge, moored at Portland Port in Dorset in the south-west.

The coach could not leave the area after being surrounded by the protesters at about 8 a.m., local time (0700GMT).

Video footage, circulated on social media, showed the crowd chanting pro-immigration slogans, including “stop deportation”, referring to the UK’s much-debated migration policy, particularly the Rwanda migrant deportation plan.

“Well done all anti racists supporting refugees and opposing detention vans, coaches and raids in localities all over Britain,” the Stand Up To Racism group wrote on X, sharing images from the protest.

In a statement, Southwark Police said that they were called at around 8.40 a.m. (0740GMT) to reports of a group of protesters near a hotel on Peckham Road.

“My officers were quickly on scene and have engaged with the protesters at length. They have warned the group that they could be arrested,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Ade Adelekan.

On Tuesday, the UK dispatched its first failed asylum seeker to Rwanda under a pioneering voluntary scheme.

After becoming law in late April, the long-debated legislation, seeking to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, paves the way for the deportation of thousands of asylum seekers in a matter of weeks.

In January last year, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said tackling small boat crossings by irregular migrants across the English Channel was among five priorities of his government as more than 45,000 migrants arrived in the UK that way in 2022.

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