The UK Home Office has reportedly set up an advertising campaign targeting illegal migrants in transit through France and Belgium. The underlying goal? Discourage them from joining the British island.
Has the UK Home Office created a deceptive website for migrants to dissuade them from going to the UK? In any case, this is what affirms The Independent this July 31. Under the name On the move, a platform claims to “provide migrants in transit with free, reliable and important information” on their journey.
On the move, hosted by a .org domain generally used by charities, makes no reference to its links with the UK government. The Independent claims it was created in April 2020, using an encrypted registration system that conceals the personal information of the site’s designers.
From the opening page, the platform invites asylum seekers to send their questions to On The Move by email, these being redirected to the British government, according to the media outlet. The site explains in its “information” section that the UK “regularly returns people who enter by illegal means”, and that driving a canoe across the Channel “is a crime”.
Anyone visiting the site is also asked if they “are planning to travel to the UK illegally”. By clicking on “yes”, the Internet user is redirected to a page with links devoted to the dangers of travel, to “legal risks” and to the “realities” of life in Europe. The website also contains a page on the best way to “return voluntarily to one’s country of origin”.
Targeted ads in English, Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Pashto
More broadly, as part of a campaign to dissuade migrants in France and Belgium from attempting to enter the UK illegally, the UK government has also reportedly paid 23,200 pounds (around 27,000 euros) to broadcast in the two French-speaking countries targeted advertisements on Facebook and Instagram in English, Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Pashto between December and April, according to the PA news agency. Linking to the On the move site, the ads featured slogans such as “don’t put your life or your child’s life in danger”, “we’ll bring you back” or “there’s no place to hide”.
We don’t have to apologize
The opposition quickly denounced the process, Labor Nick Thomas-Symonds, Home Secretary of the shadow cabinet, declaring that “the chaotic management of the Home Office by Priti Patel has resulted in the spending of thousands of dollars. pounds of taxpayer money for a bogus, disgraceful and dehumanizing advertising campaign ”. “We need an asylum policy that focuses on tackling gangs that profit from human trafficking, reopening safe and legal roads and dropping the ineffective government bill that violates the Refugee Convention, ”he added.
This Government campaign is false, disgraceful & dehumanising.
Instead, Ministers should focus on tackling the vile people-trafficking gangs, reopening safe and legal routes, and dropping the Bill that breaks the Refugee Convention. Me in @Independent 👇https: //t.co/pefB3teMFw
– Nick Thomas-Symonds MP (@NickTorfaen) July 31, 2021
Clare Moseley, founder of the charity Care4Calais, told The Independent to be “shocked that [le] government [britannique] be determined to spend more time and money on deterring and misleading vulnerable people ”. “Those who arrive on our shores are often traumatized, having taken life-threatening journeys to escape some of the world’s most dangerous countries. It is time for this government to show compassion and step up its aid, ”she said.
Dan O’Mahoney, appointed in August 2020 to head the fight against illegal Channel crossings, explained to the media which revealed the process that faced with “an unacceptable increase in dangerous and unnecessary crossings”, this “campaign of communication was intended to deter migrants located in France and Belgium who intended to attempt to enter the UK by canoes or hidden in trucks ”.
According to him, these advertisements and this deceptive site contained “a series of important messages, underlining the risk of carrying out these deadly journeys”. “We do not have to apologize for providing essential and potentially vital information,” he said on behalf of the British government.