Seekers may be sent to ‘safe havens’

The government is considering operating a scheme to deport asylum
seekers to “safe haven” countries in the regions they have left in
order to reduce the numbers in the UK.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed that the idea was raised in a
discussion paper between it and the Cabinet Office but denied a
decision to progress with it had been made. She said: “It does not
represent any formal policy yet. It is part of the government’s
wider look at global immigration issues.”

Refugee Action chief executive Sandy Buchan said that the success
of any such scheme would depend on adherence to “the highest
standards of human rights, the absence of coercion and a commitment
to help developing countries support refugees.”

Meanwhile, home secretary David Blunkett has also announced an
extension of the list of countries from which asylum claims will be
presumed to be “clearly unfounded”.

The seven countries added to the list of “safe” countries are:
Albania, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Serbia
and Montenegro.

This week Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared to be backing down
over his previous comments that the government was to halve the
number of asylum applications by September. In 2001 there were
92,000 asylum applications and latest figures, due out soon, are
expected to top 100,000.

The Home Office said there was no specific target on this, but that
it was a long-term aim.

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