These journeys are perilous. Last Wednesday saw the deadliest tragedy yet, as 27 drowned while making the crossing, including several children. In response, former government ministers have accused the home secretary Priti Patel of “making it up as she goes along”, as she seems to have neither a workable plan to reduce numbers nor any explanation for why crossings are at record levels on her watch.
So far, the ideas offered are nonsense, unlawful, or both. One idea was to process all asylum seekers in Albania at an estimated cost of £100k each. However, the Albanian ambassador said this would never happen as it’s “against international law”. Earlier, there had been talk of suggestions that processing might happen elsewhere, for instance in Gibraltar or Rwanda, but the government said the reports were “groundless speculation”.
A second idea is to push refugees back, putting those in sinking rafts, including women and children, in grave danger. This has been branded “inhumane” and “unconscionable” by Labour, but it is also a breach of the Merchant Shipping (Safety of Navigation) Regulations 2020, which require the rescue of those in distress at sea.
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