Protesters try to stop UK migrant removals from temporary accommodationThu, 02 May 2024 16:26:39 GMT

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.- Crossings – 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. It takes the total number of migrants who have made the Channel crossing so far this year to 8,278 — up more than a quarter on the same period in 2023.The highest-ever single-day arrivals figure was 1,295 and was recorded on August 22, 2022.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said the figures demonstrated why the Rwanda plan was needed but the main opposition Labour party called it an “unaffordable and unworkable” plan.French police on Wednesday said they had rescued 66 people after their boat ran into trouble off the coastal town of Dieppe.UK police have made a number of arrests as part of an investigation into the deaths of five people whose boat got into difficulties off the French coast on April 23.Migration — both regular and irregular — has been a major political issue in the UK, given the government’s promise to tighten the country’s borders after leaving the European Union.But doing so has proved harder to implement, with the Conservative government desperate to trumpet successes as it goes into local elections on Thursday and a general election later this year.Some 122,600 people have been intercepted in British waters and brought ashore since the UK began recording arrivals in 2018.