There have been many times recently when I have felt ashamed of our government, but no more so than when I see a headline about dispersing asylum seekers to any part of the world except the UK (Revealed: No 10 explores sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea, 30 September). Whether or not this has been dreamed up by Dominic Cummings, the responsibility lies with Priti Patel and Boris Johnson, and they should feel deep shame.
No one hands over their life savings, says goodbye to their family, that is, if they haven’t already lost them to war or famine, and risks their life in a long, frightening and dangerous journey to reach our shores without believing that this is the only way they can save themselves. How many times do we have to ask the government, and the media, to stop assuming that these desperate people crossing the channel are doing so only for what they can get out of this country? I talk to asylum seekers and refugees every week; their stories of violence, trauma and loss are heartbreaking.
They trust that we will help make them safe. And yet, the government talks about them as if they are animals, suggesting that they can be herded on to disused ferries or shipped to the farthest reaches of our overseas territories where they can be “processed”. We process meat and peas. Asylum seekers are human beings, like you and me, and deserve the same respect and compassion as we do. The UK’s record of providing refuge for asylum seekers is appalling. We have room, we can and should do better.
Newcastle upon Tyne
• With growing incredulity, I read about the plan hatched in No 10 to send asylum seekers to an offshore location for assessment. In your report, Moldova, Morocco or Papua New Guinea are cited after the outcry brought about by their first suggestions of Ascension Island or St Helena. This follows the discredited approach used by previous Australian governments to use islands off the Australian coast.
May I suggest that the government looks closer to home? England will soon become an inconsequential island off the coast of Europe and fit its crazed and cruel approach.
• Priti Patel’s proposal to dump asylum seekers in the south Atlantic or Papua New Guinea is not without precedent. Eighty or so years ago, another government considered exporting a group of human beings it similarly despised to Madagascar. And so again, this government continues to goose-step over the line that divides the hard right from the far right, inspired by the worst possible historical examples.
• One additional concern about putting large numbers of asylum seekers into confined accommodation (Editorial, 1 October) is the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. Cruise ships, in particular, spread coronavirus widely, in staff as well as passengers. Many asylum seekers have had minimal access to hygiene facilities and healthy food in transit, and are particularly vulnerable. As well as denying their right to a safe environment, it also creates a reservoir of infection for local communities.
Dr Michael Peel
• Looking at the latest disgraceful ideas of the government on asylum seekers, the residents of San Serriffe will be thankful that neither Dominic Cummings nor Priti Patel has ever read the Guardian.