ASYLUM seekers living on board the Bibby Stockholm were previously sent letters which could see them sent to Rwanda.

Some asylum seekers living on board the barge at Portland Port were sent Notice of Intent letters by the Home Office - before being moved onto the accommodation vessel.

These letters are sent to asylum seekers who are believed to have passed through third countries such as France or Germany on their way to the UK to claim asylum.

The Home Office has since clarified that asylum seekers were sent the letters before being moved onto the Bibby Stockholm.

It added that: "no Notices of Intent have been sent to residents of the Bibby Stockholm with reference to Rwanda after they had boarded the vessel."

Charities working with asylum seekers claim the letters mean that the asylum claims of the men who receive them have been paused.

Asylum seekers who are considered to have passed through a "safe third country" could also face being deported to one of those countries they passed through on their way to the UK.

The UK government wants to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda and is proposing new laws to overcome legal obstacles after the Supreme Court said the plan was unlawful.

The letters say: "We have evidence that before you claimed asylum in the United Kingdom, you were present in or had a connection to another country.

"This may have consequences for whether your claim is admitted to the UK asylum system."

The letters also say that their details may be shared with the Rwandan Government so they can ask if it would be safe for the men to be moved to the African country.

It means that asylum seekers on the barge may face deportation to Rwanda if the Rwanda asylum bill becomes law.

Heather from Portland Global Friendship Group, who supports residents of the Bibby Stockholm said: “As a group, we have been involved in supporting the asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm.

"They are all desperate for their cases to be processed quickly and efficiently so they can continue with their lives in safety; knowing their claims are being processed gives them hope.

“For the men on the Bibby Stockholm with Rwanda letters, they have lost this hope due to their cases not currently being processed.

"The effect on these men's mental health has been devastating.

"They are desperate for the Home Office to exempt them from their Rwanda letters so the processing of the asylum claims can be resumed. 

“The Home Office stated that the asylum seekers who moved to the Bibby Stockholm would be at the end of their claims, therefore it seems illogical and not cost-effective for asylum seekers to be housed in the Bibby Stockholm whilst their claims are not being processed at all.”

Steve Smith, CEO of refugee charity Care4Calais said: “We have supported around 1,000 asylum seekers across the country who have received Rwanda notices.

"Each notice inflicts yet more trauma and strikes fear into the recipients, many of whom have survived torture, modern slavery and persecution.

"Not only that, but it leaves them outside the asylum system, their lives held in limbo as the Government pursues its brutal, but wholly unworkable, Rwanda Plan.

“Instead of trying to override the judgement of the Supreme Court, the Government should bin the Rwanda plan and introduce safe routes for refugees to claim asylum in the UK.

"That’s the only way to end the Channel crossings. It will save lives in the Channel and give people, like those on the Bibby barge with Rwanda notices, their lives back with the hope of a safe future in the UK.”

The Home Office says that the forms inform asylum seekers who entered the United Kingdom via a safe country that their claim is being considered under the safe third country inadmissibility process.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Illegal Migration Act is clear that people arriving in the UK illegally will be detained and promptly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.”