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Monday, August 02, 2021

The Home Office and its fake website

There is an extraordinary claim in the Independent, who allege that the Home Office set up a website targeting asylum seekers with “misleading” claims to deter them from journeying to Britain.

They say it created a fake organisation called On The Move, complete with a logo and glossy branding, which claims to “provide migrants in transit with free, reliable and important information”. Links to the website were pushed out to asylum seekers in France and Belgium as part of a social media campaign that cost the government £23,000 over five months:

The website, using a .org domain commonly associated with charities, contains no government branding and the “about us” section does not disclose any link to the Home Office.

Research by The Independent shows the website was set up in April 2020, using a private registration tool that conceals the owners’ personal information.

It invites asylum seekers to email On The Move with questions, without knowing that they would be contacting the British government.

The website, which remains online, tells readers the UK “regularly returns people who enter via irregular routes” but in reality, Britain has not been able to deport asylum seekers to EU countries since 1 January because of Brexit.

It also claims that steering a dinghy across the English Channel “is a crime”, although controversial prosecutions of boat pilots have recently been limited.

The paper goes on to say the website was created as part of a campaign with which the Home Office “aimed to dissuade migrants in France and Belgium from attempting irregular entry into the UK”:

A Freedom of Information request by the PA news agency revealed it paid £23,200 for targeted adverts to be placed on Facebook and Instagram in English, Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Pashto between December and April, all linked to the On The Move website and carrying slogans including “don’t put your or your child’s life in danger”, “we will return you” and “there is no hiding place”.

Clare Moseley, founder of charity Care4Calais, said: “I’m shocked that our government is determined to spend more time and money deterring and misleading vulnerable people.

“Those who make it to our shores are often traumatised, having made life-threatening journeys to escape from some of the world’s most dangerous countries. It’s about time this government showed some compassion and stepped up to help.”

Anyone visiting the On The Move website is initially asked whether they are “considering travelling to the UK irregularly”.

Those clicking “yes” are taken to a page with links on the dangers of the journey, the “legal risks” and the “realities” of life in Europe.

The website has a page on “safe and legal alternatives” but none of them detail how to seek asylum in the UK specifically, or how to reach Britain.

Instead, it focuses on France, Belgium and other EU countries, or directs asylum seekers to information on how to “return to their home country voluntarily”.

These sort of black ops go on all the time of course, but in this context and from this source just indicates how far things have gone with Ministers pursuing an isolationist agenda in which the UK tries to avoid its international and humanitarian obligations.
Yes, I have seen this on twitter.As you say we cannot send them back so the numbers increase in unhealthy camps etc.They are in deed traumatised after leaving dangerous place hundreds ,thousands of miles away.They do not take these journies lightly which in itself is full of danger.They risk all for a better life.
The numbers that come here are less than those that stay in the EU.Whilst their is still hostility over them in the EU their are better opportunities.
As for the UK there are hardly any ways to legally get here.
There is a difference between smuggling and trafficking.Put simply the latter pay the fee after they have arrived by working illegally etc for the gang IN THE UK that brought them over.
A better idea would be to use them in the fields picking fruit and veg,using the skills/talents that they bring with them and paying taxes in the UK.They then have a choice to think of the UK as THEIR country OR go back home eventually with good thoughts of the UK
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