Is Rwanda's policy pushing migrants to Ireland?

  • By Tamara Kovacevic and Lucy Gilder
  • Verified by BBC

Image source, Getty Images

He blamed me Rwanda politics Fear of deportation is high, and migrants want to be returned to the UK.

The Irish deputy leader said the 80% figure was not based on data, but said it was clear there had been a change in where migrants were coming from.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says that “the deterrent… is already having an effect.”

The BBC investigates the rise in asylum applications in the Republic of Ireland and whether a Rwanda plot is behind it.

What happens to asylum applications in Ireland?

The Irish Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, made the 80% claim.

she He told the Irish Parliament “A large percentage of people are coming across the border now… I would say higher than 80%.”

The border she was referring to is the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which is an open border that is not subject to routine checks on people crossing it.

BBC Verify contacted the Irish government to request data to support its claims that asylum seekers were crossing into Ireland in this way, but it did not provide it.

We also contacted the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ireland.

Both responded that there are no publicly available statistics on how asylum seekers enter Ireland.

Comment on the photo, Tents sheltering asylum seekers near the International Protection Office in Dublin

This indicates, she says, that the majority of asylum seekers enter the country via land borders, rather than by sea or air.

“Its consistent assessment, based on the experience of staff and others working in the field, and based on material collected in interviews, is that in most cases, first-time IPO applicants have entered across land borders,” she said. “.

On Monday, Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Micheál Martin was asked to provide evidence that 80% of asylum seekers come across the land border.

“It's not a statistic… it's not an evidence-based database, but it's very clear from the presentations when immigrants come that there's a change in the nature of where immigrants come from and so on, and that's the meaning and perspective that [the Department of] Justice in this matter.”

The top nationality seeking asylum so far this year in Ireland is Nigerian, followed by Bangladeshi. Nigerian citizens were the top nationality in 2022 and 2023 as well.

In the UK, the national rankings are quite different: Vietnamese are the first nationality to arrive by small boat so far in 2024, followed by Afghan nationals.

In Ireland, tensions have risen over the increase in the number of asylum seekers, with protests organized in Dublin and… Other parts of Ireland.

Comment on the photo, Protesters march in Dublin in February

Are Rwanda's politics behind the rise?

But while the number of asylum seekers in Ireland has risen sharply in recent years, Mihnya Quibus – a researcher at Oxford University's Migration Observatory – says there is not enough evidence to say whether Rwanda's policy “plays a role”.

“The number of monthly asylum applications in Ireland rose fairly rapidly at the end of 2021 – two months before the Rwanda Plan was announced and has fluctuated somewhat since then,” he said.

“This suggests that the Rwanda Plan was not responsible for driving this initial growth… Many European countries, including the UK, saw growth in the number of asylum applications they received over the same period.”

Additional reporting by Jiri Georgieva

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