Derwentside Immigration and Removal Centre in Consett, England.
A flight chartered by the U.K. government, carrying at least 21 people from Nigeria and Ghana, has landed in Lagos, Nigeria. The U.K. has at the same time announced a “major new agreement” with Nigeria to collaborate on migration issues, following similar arrangements with Ghana and Rwanda.
Thirteen Nigerians were removed to Lagos on the June 30 flight, according to the U.K. Home Office, which is responsible for migration issues in the country. The flight then carried on to Ghana, where eight Ghanaians disembarked. The flight is believed to have been operated by Portuguese charter carrier Hi Fly, but the company did not respond to a request to confirm. The Home Office declined to comment.
It is unclear why exactly the people on the plane were deported, though the Home Office described 11 of those removed as “foreign national offenders” and a further 10 as “immigration offenders.”
Typically, a deportation order is made when a foreign national is convicted of an offense and sentenced to at least 12 months. These can range from serious crimes, to something as minor as shoplifting or drink driving. The Home Office stated the combined prison sentences for the 11 foreign national offenders was over 64 years, which is around six years on average.
According to a U.K. government minister, over 10,000 people had been deported from the U.K. between January 2019 and May 2022.
Earlier, protestors gathered outside the female-only Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre in northern England, which is run by facilities company Mitie. The protestors demonstrated and shouted pro-refugee slogans as a bus, believed to have been carrying some of the deportees, left the center. Several protestors were arrested, according to a BBC reporter.
It has been reported that among those slated for deportation on the flight were mothers and grandmothers, many of whom had been in the country for decades, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community who had been seeking asylum in the U.K. One gay Nigerian man believed (though not confirmed) to have been on the flight had previously told the Guardian he feared for his life if returned to Nigeria.
The government has repeatedly come under fire for allegedly deporting people to situations where they face grave danger, as well as taking steps to speed up the removal process, which critics say pose “grave human rights violations.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The U.K. only ever returns individuals to their country of origin when the Home Office and, where applicable, the courts deem it is safe to do so. All asylum and human rights claims are carefully considered in accordance with our international obligations. Each individual assessment is made against the background of relevant caselaw and the latest country information.”
Deportations from the U.K. have been increasingly in the spotlight this year since the Home Office announced plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda (though this is separate from the partnerships with Nigeria and Ghana). Initially the plan was believed to be an “offshore processing” system, wherein people would have their asylum claims for the U.K. processed in Rwanda. But it is now understood people will be made to claim asylum in Rwanda itself, with no option to return to the U.K.
The plan has met fierce criticism from human rights organizations including the UNHCR, as well as from British politicians and sectors of British society. In June, the first scheduled flight was cancelled after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, though Home Secretary Priti Patel, said the government would not be deterred in their plan and were arranging future flights.

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