Britain and Georgia launch deal to send back migrants who come to UK shores via the former Soviet republic
- The agreement says the foreign national will be flown out within three months
- It comes as Rishi Sunak had ‘productive’ talks with leaders in Moldova yesterday
Migrants who pass through Georgia on the way to Britain risk being sent back under an agreement that came into force yesterday.
Asylum seekers who lived in or ‘transited through’ the former Soviet republic and then arrived in the UK can be put on a flight back to Tbilisi.
The agreement says requests for a removal must be considered by either country within 12 days and, once agreed, the foreign national will be flown out within three months.
Rishi Sunak yesterday insisted the migration crisis could be solved only by international efforts.
The Prime Minister hailed ‘very productive’ talks he held with European leaders during a summit in Moldova yesterday.
Asylum seekers who lived in or ‘transited through’ the former Soviet republic and then arrived in the UK can be put on a flight back to Tbilisi. Pictured: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, where he spoke with Georgian president Irakli Garibashvili
At the European Political Community gathering in Chisinau hosted by Moldovan president Maia Sandu, he said: ‘Many of the challenges we face – whether it’s standing up to Russian aggression here in Moldova or in Ukraine, but also tackling illegal migration – are challenges that we can only really solve when we work together with other countries.
‘I’ve been having a series of very productive discussions here to strengthen everyone’s support for Ukraine but also to work co-operatively to tackle illegal migration, which is one of my five big priorities.’
Georgia lies at a crucial migrant crossroads in the Caucasus.
Migrants from the Middle East who are trying to avoid entering Turkey, which prevents crossings at its border with the EU, follow the so-called ‘Black Sea route’.
This involves a land crossing through Armenia or Azerbaijan into Georgia, followed by a crossing over the Black Sea toward Romania or Bulgaria.
Intelligence-sharing that follows February’s agreement with Bulgaria will also boost efforts against the people traffickers.
The deal will see the National Crime Agency lend more support to local law enforcement officers to ‘improve their use of intelligence’, sources said.
The joint work will include specific action to tackle the supply chains of equipment used by traffickers, including inflatable dinghies.
Bulgaria is a key land route for ‘death-trap’ inflatables built in Turkey specifically for cross-Channel smugglers.
The boats are manufactured there before being transported by road through neighbouring Bulgaria to secret bases in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The inflatables are often single-hulled and do not have multiple compartments designed to reduce the risk of sinking.
The UK Government is also seeking to enhance joint law enforcement operations with Turkey, according to reports.
An NCA spokesman said: ‘Tackling organised immigration crime is a key priority for us.
The NCA alone has more than 90 ongoing investigations into networks or individuals in the top tier of organised immigration crime or human trafficking – the highest harm.
‘Much of the criminality lies outside the UK, so we have built up our intelligence sharing effort with law enforcement partners.’
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