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Fury at plans for 1,500 migrant camp in Yorkshire village as part of Rwanda deal
19 May 2022, 18:18 | Updated: 19 May 2022, 23:13
Furious villagers opposing Government plans to send migrants to a rural part of Yorkshire as part of its "Rwanda plan" have attacked the "appalling" concept.
The Home Office wants to temporarily put up to 1,500 asylum seekers in an old RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire.
It forms part of a migrant plan that will also see the Government begin sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.
But villagers turned out on Thursday to demonstrate opposition to settling so many people – more than the population of the village of Linton-on-Ouse, which has about 1,200 residents.
Olga Matthias, speaking for the Linton-on-Ouse Action Group, said: "Quite frankly, what the Home Office have done is appalling and people want to let the Home Office know that there is strong feeling that what they've done is absolutely wrong, that this is the wrong plan, this is the wrong place, and even if this is a different place, this is a particular plan is absolutely wrong."
The asylum centre is on a former RAF base and is due to open within weeks.
The Home Office is facing a possible legal challenge from Hambleton Council over the plans.
Council chief executive Dr Justin Ives said previously of his meeting with officials: "In their opinion the decision to host the centre there is final, subject to them being satisfied that it can be operated safely.
"From a practical basis they hope to have people there within the next four to six weeks, it will start off with 100 asylum seekers and the maximum they envisage at the site will be 1,500."
The plans form an integral part of the Rwanda plan, Boris Johnson told the Yorkshire Post, because a reception centre is needed as part of the concept.
And as residents made their voices clear in the village ahead of a council meeting on Thursday, Ms Matthias said: "The Home Office has behaved if not unlawfully then certainly immorally because they’ve broken so many of their own guidelines.
"They’ve ridden roughshod over their responsibility and duty to us as subjects of Her Majesty the Queen, they have ridden roughshod over all the rights that asylum seekers have when they go to countries of safe haven, quite frankly it’s appalling."
She added: "It’s the wrong place because it's tiny, it's the wrong infrastructure.
"About four miles away is the nearest GP surgery… how can they cope with an extra 1,500 people?"
The Government's plan to send asylum seekers away to Rwanda has come under fire too. Kevin Foster, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, said those sent to Linton-on-Ouse will not be considered for deportation to Rwanda.
The claim the plan will deter small boat crossings has been met with scepticism, as has the idea of sending them to East Africa due to concern over how they will be treated in the country.
The Government had to stop a deportation flight to East Africa after a legal challenge was launched against it.
A Home Office spokesman said: "Our new, world-leading migration partnership with Rwanda will see those who make dangerous, illegal or unnecessary journeys to the UK relocated to Rwanda and, if recognised as refugees, they will be supported to build a new life there.
"We are putting this plan into action and have started to notify those who are in scope to be relocated, with the first flights expected to take place in the coming months."