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Protesters try to stop UK migrant removals from temporary accommodation

By AFP

May 2, 2024 09:18 PM


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Protesters in London tried to prevent the removal of migrants from their temporary accommodation Thursday, as the UK government began detaining people before controversial deportation flights to Rwanda start.

Dozens of people surrounded a bus believed to be taking asylum seekers from a hotel in the Peckham area of the British capital to an accommodation barge moored off the south coast of England.

Several other protests have been held or are planned around the country to stop immigration officers detaining migrants.

In Peckham, police moved in to try to disperse the protesters, who had formed a human chain around the bus, and blocked the road in front of a hotel.

Most had their faces covered and hire bikes were put under the wheels of the bus, which reportedly had its tyres slashed.

Several people were seen being dragged away by officers.

"A number of people have been arrested for offences including obstruction of the highway, and one for a racially aggravated public order offence," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Interior minister James Cleverly was defiant and condemned those seeking to stop the removals.

"Housing migrants in hotels costs the British taxpayer millions of pounds every day," he wrote on the social media platform X.

"We will not allow this small group of students, posing for social media, to deter us from doing what is right for the British public."

Cleverly's ministry this week confirmed that it has begun detaining asylum seekers before planned deportation to Rwanda, after parliament passed a law declaring it a safe country.

Several migrants were seen in photos and video footage released by the ministry being taken away in handcuffs by immigration officers.

The ministry has not confirmed how many people have been held so far, but the government says it expects Rwanda to take 5,700 migrants this year.

The protests come after official figures published on Thursday showed that 711 people were brought ashore the previous day after trying to cross the Channel in small boats from northern France.

The number is the highest on a single day so far this year and comes even as London insists that its plan to "stop the boats" is working, including through the Rwanda deportation scheme.

The new high is more than the previous 2024 single-day record of 534 on April 14.

 


AFP


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