Should we be concerned about the UK deporting asylum seekers to Armenia?

With the ongoing political upheavals and the deepening crisis of climate change in the Middle East, Afghanistan and some African countries, thousands of migrants have sought refuge across the world, mainly in Europe. The main motives behind this emigration are seeking a better life with regard to socio-economic conditions and escaping political uncertainty and insecurity. However, amid the rise of far-right populist and conservative movements in Europe in recent years, European countries have been reviewing their refugee policies. 

For example, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, 132,000 applicants sought asylum to the United Kingdom in 2022, hoping to be granted refugee status. However, since 2023, the number of asylum applicants awaiting a decision has decreased, as the British government has withdrawn many asylum applications and adopted harsher measures for asylum seekers.

Now, the UK will deport a group of 5,700 asylum seekers to Rwanda in the coming weeks, Reuters reported on April 29. Under a scandalous law known as the “Safety of Rwanda Act,” which was passed in the UK, asylum seekers who arrived illegally in the UK after January 1, 2022 can be deported to Rwanda. Official documents show that more than 50,000 people are eligible to be deported. The Irish government has argued that the UK’s plan to deport asylum seekers to third countries (mainly to Rwanda) is encouraging more immigrants to enter the Republic of Ireland.

On April 22, the British newspaper The Independent published an article reporting that the UK previously negotiated with other countries to harbor the asylum seekers. The UK reportedly approached Armenia regarding a Rwanda-style deal to house asylum seekers deported from Britain, but the latter did not accept such an agreement. The UK has also sought agreements with third countries such as Ivory Coast, Costa Rica and Botswana. 

Artsakh civilians wait for a bus to flee to Armenia (Photo: Siranush Sargsyan)

The Times newspaper said: “The [UK] government pressed ahead with talks with representatives from these countries on agreeing a similar UK-Rwanda deal, although progress with all four has stalled because of ongoing problems with the Rwanda deal.”

Although Armenian authorities confirmed that the UK approached them with this deal, they added that there have been no further negotiations or any agreement. According to Nelly Davtyan, the deputy head of Migration and Citizenship Service within the Armenian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the ministry “is not and has never been involved in such negotiations.” Moreover, Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan added that Armenia is already suffering from a refugee crisis, as 108,000 Armenians from Artsakh were forced to leave their homeland last year by Azerbaijani aggression. Hence, hosting UK asylum seekers would be an additional burden on Armenia.

Armenia is already suffering from a refugee crisis, as 108,000 Armenians from Artsakh were forced to leave their homeland last year by Azerbaijani aggression.

“To bring just one figure to you, only for the housing issues with these people we’ll be needing €1.5 billion. Now, we are negotiating with different private donors and banks for this. We’re allocating €100 million for financial support for these people, and we are paying the educational fees for the students who came from Nagorno-Karabakh for university. All this means we have a lot of problems,” Kostanyan said.

This is not the first time the UK has attempted to deport asylum seekers to third countries. In 2020, according to the Guardian, the UK approached Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea with a similar proposal.

Armenia, which is facing economic and political challenges, cannot host immigrants and resettle or integrate asylum seekers who are not familiar with Armenian culture. They may face difficulties with employment, housing and social challenges, which the government is not able to tackle, as thousands of Artsakh Armenian refugees are still facing similar issues. As such, Armenia first needs to solve its refugee problem and attract funds and humanitarian aid to address the needs of Artsakh Armenian refugees, providing them with the necessary conditions to prevent their immigration abroad. 

Yeghia Tashjian

Yeghia Tashjian

Yeghia Tashjian is a regional analyst and researcher. He has graduated from the American University of Beirut in Public Policy and International Affairs. He pursued his BA at Haigazian University in political science in 2013. In 2010, he founded the New Eastern Politics forum/blog. He was a research assistant at the Armenian Diaspora Research Center at Haigazian University. Currently, he is the regional officer of Women in War, a gender-based think tank. He has participated in international conferences in Frankfurt, Vienna, Uppsala, New Delhi and Yerevan. He has presented various topics from minority rights to regional security issues. His thesis topic was on China’s geopolitical and energy security interests in Iran and the Persian Gulf. He is a contributor to various local and regional newspapers and a presenter of the “Turkey Today” program for Radio Voice of Van. Recently he has been appointed as associate fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and Middle East-South Caucasus expert in the European Geopolitical Forum.

5 Comments

  1. Look after one’s own problems seems to be the maxim. Western countries which after WW2 started to embrace the coundenhove kalegeri plan of race mixing to diminish the racial basis of nationality as a means to curb the hyper nationalism and chauvinisms which had played a part in formenting recurring wars. However such goings on lead to move internally divided and confused nations with rising internal divisions. Ironically the contention between Armenia and Azerbaijan would be rendered moot if both were to receive masses of Africans and Asians although of course it would destroy the identity of the people and lead to much internal discord as is occurring in the western world. In addition it is becoming apparent in a world where international warfare seems set to increase and boundaries challenged that the historical population doesn’t wish to go and fight for a nation which doesn’t believe in then and the newcomers don’t wish to partake in a fight they don’t see as theirs, this is happening in Europe with regard to the prospect of a wider war with Russia over current proxy war over Ukraine.

  2. HELL NO. HELL NO. HELL NO.
    ARMENIA ALREADY HAS ITS OWN PROBLEMS WHICH IT CAN’T SOLVE. ADD TO IT A DUMPTRUCK’S LOAD OF MILLIONS OF FOREIGNERS AND IT IS THE END! END! END! OF ARMENIA. PERIOD. DO NOT ACCEPT ANY IDIOTIC AGREEMENTS TO SHIP FOREIGNERS TO ARMENIA. KEEP THEM OUT!

    • SO TRUE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! 60 to 100 k INDIANS, SO MANY PERSIENS AND AFRICANS,ALSO RUSSIAN, ENGLISH AND AZERBAYJANY AGENTS. ADDING TO THAT THE MASS ARMENIAN EMIGRATION ARMENIA, ESPECIALLY YEREVAN BECAME UNRECOGNIZABLE!!!

  3. These refugees and asylum seekers should be the least of UK’s problems. Today, they must have hundreds of thousands Muslim immigrants from various Muslim countries and from their former colonies, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular, many of whom are second or third generation UK citizens living in their ghettos under Sharia laws who freely organize anti-UK demonstrations in major cities, such as London, during major global events and going as far as openly chanting their next stop should be the Vatican. These are the people UK needs to target and revoke their citizenship and deport them back to the countries where they and their parents came from. I find it suspiciously quite interesting that these “devout” Muslim refugees who want to live under Sharia laws always end up in countries where they don’t belong when they can freely practice that way of living right next door, for example, in Saudi Arabia where they fit right in and belong! Because they want to impose their ideology onto others while enjoying and benefiting from the freedom and opportunities offered to them in Western countries they could not even dream of having in their own or other Muslim host countries!

    I think they targeted Armenia by enticing them financially with hopes of settling these “undesirables” in Armenia most likely because the current incompetent and treasonous government running Armenia could care less what the population mix of Armenia is as long as they can profit from it. For these unpatriotic losers everything is a business transaction. These refugees and asylum seekers share no values with our people whatsoever and there are plenty of Muslim countries they can get settled whose language they speak and whose culture and customs they are familiar with. As an example, for an Afghani refugee, Pakistan and Iran is only a day trip away and they speak their language and are familiar with their ways of living. Why not seek refuge in these countries instead of those other ones they will never integrate into and end up causing problems in the long run? Keep them out and keep Armenia Armenian!

  4. @Ararat as a resident of the UK i see the demographic changes all the time. In many cases such persons are clearly grifters seeking benefits from the UK burgeoning national debt and the declining historical population whose taxes help to underwrite this excess the fact they aren’t asked is beside the point. It’s also ironic that such persons tend to be socially conservative and yet Europe seems to be a magnet to such persons. Arab and Muslim countries are full of the florid talk of brotherhood but short of the reality and hence deeply hypocritical. Despite being brother Arabs the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon have less statutory rights than in Europe and in many cases live in overcrowded ghettos where they are confined by their fellow brother Arabs. Officially this is so they don’t forget their ancesteral lands and strive for its liberation but in practice is a cruel betrayal.For Armenia with those who were displaced from Arktash. Residency and citizenship must be offered and the false hope and basically betrayal situation the Palestinians have faced in the hands of their Arab brethren must be avoided. Nevertheless if Azerbaijan was to also accept all and sundry it would take a twist of the situation with Armenia. In the restive province of northern Ireland the nationalist – unionist contention has in addition to a mutual compromise peace agreement mass immigration by persons aloof and indifferent to the historical antagonism to northern Ireland and to the UK and Ireland itself has rendered the issue somewhat moot in recent years.

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