Ghana: Government denies UK’s ‘Operation Dead Meat’ scheme

By Jaysim Hanspal
Posted on Wednesday, 19 January 2022 16:50

Migrants stand with police on the beach after crossing the English Channel in an inflatable dinghy, in Dungeness
Migrants stand with police on the beach after crossing the English Channel in an inflatable dinghy, in Dungeness, Britain, January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

On Tuesday, Ghana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration released a statement denying allegations in the UK press that it is part of a new scheme that would "send migrants to countries such as Rwanda and Ghana for processing and resettlement". 

The scheme, dubbed in the British press as “Operation Dead Meat”, would see people who arrived illegally in the UK sent abroad for processing and resettlement, with claims that there had been talks between government ministers.

In response to the reports, the Ghanaian government said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration wishes to state categorically that Ghana has not engaged with the UK on any such and does not intend to consider any such operation in the future”.

This is not the first time Ghana’s government have been pushed to deny these allegations.

On 30 August 2021, the ministry’s official account reported, in a now-deleted tweet, that “during the meeting, the Hon. Minister and the RT. Hon. discussed issues of mutual interest between Ghana and the UK, particularly in areas of security and migration, notably in matters relating to third-country asylum partnerships as the UK makes plans to reform its asylum system and tackle illegal immigration”.

The tweet also thanked the UK government for donating 249,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via the COVAX initiative. The tweet included a picture of a virtual meeting between the UK’s Africa Minister, James Duddridge, and Ghanian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

In a statement on 8 September 2021, the ministry called the tweets “vaguely worded”, and said despite the fact that the UK had submitted a draft proposal for a security partnership, “the Ministry wishes to categorically state that Ghana has no interest or intention to consider any proposed partnership on Third Country Asylum”.

‘Dog’s Dinner’

The statement from Ghana comes alongside UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Operation Red Meat’ that planned to use the Royal Navy to ferry migrants who tried to enter the country illegally.

Tory MP Philip Hollobone told defence minister James Heappey: ‘This isn’t Operation Red Meat, it’s Operation Dog’s Dinner.”

The schemes, also including ‘Operation BigDog‘ have all been criticised as a loud attempt to deflect from the ‘partygate’ scandal, where several members of the Johnson’s government were caught defying lockdown restrictions that they had imposed on the rest of the country. Currently, #OperationDeadMeat is being used on Twitter as a slam against the state of the Tory government, as well as Johnson’s decreasing popularity.

Tragedy at sea

Home Secretary Priti Patel has long been planning innovative ideas to deter immigrants from illegally entering the country. In June 2021 The Times reported that Patel was in talks with Denmark over sharing a processing centre in Africa.

This is not the first time the UK government has faced backlash for its immigration policy. In 2018, Commonwealth citizens who had migrated from Caribbean countries in the 1950s and 1960s were suddenly deemed ‘illegal immigrants’ or ‘undocumented migrants’. Many were placed in immigration detention, while others were deported to countries they had not seen since they emigrated as children.

Every year more people attempt to cross the English channel into the UK, cramped in small boats as they flee conflict and poverty or persecution in their home countries.

According to the International Organization for Migration, since 2014, 166 migrants have been recorded dead or missing in the English Channel and 22,930 migrants have been recorded dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2021 alone, over 31,000 have attempted the dangerous crossing between France and the UK, and 7,800 have been rescued at sea, according to French authorities.

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