Image above: Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth
The Home Secretary’s plan to send Asylum seekers to Rwanda for their applications to be processed is “cruel and inhumane” says MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury.
Priti Patel announced on Thursday (14 April) asylum seekers would be flown to Rwanda to claim asylum there. The scheme will initially focus on single men crossing the Channel in boats or lorries from France and could start “within weeks” the government has said.
The prime minister has said he wants to “break the business model” of people traffickers and Priti Patel has even said the policy would be “fairer”:
“More than 28,000 migrants crossed the channel last year by small boat in very dangerous and perilous conditions. The UK asylum system is collapsing under a combination of real humanitarian crises and evil people smugglers profiteering by exploiting the system for their own gain.
“Criminals are exploiting the hopes and fears of migrants, pushing them to make dangerous journeys to the UK with fictitious and false promises that they can settle in the UK if they make it.
“This has devastating consequences for the countless men, women, and children who have tragically lost their lives or lost loved ones on perilous journeys.
“It is also deeply unfair, because it advantages those with the means to pay people smugglers over vulnerable people who cannot.”
She also makes it clear she is expecting the migrants to stay in Rwanda:
“those who are resettled will be given support, including up to five years of training to help with integration, accommodation, and healthcare, so that they can resettle and thrive… the UK is making a substantial investment in the economic development of Rwanda.”
There has been a chorus of voices condemning the new policy from politicians, legal experts and refugee groups.
“Inhumane and cynical”, “unworkable and extortionate” – cross party condemnation
The Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi called the scheme inhumane and cynical:
“This proposal of offshoring asylum seekers to Rwanda is ineffective and costly,” she said. “It’s also inhumane and shames our proud history as advocates of human rights and the refugee convention.
She said the plan was inconsistent with the UK’s “generous response” to the Ukraine crisis and described the timing of it as cynical and political.
Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson wanted to “distract from his own lawbreaking” with the announcement of the asylum processing deal with Rwanda. He also described it as:
‘Unworkable, extortionate” and said “Britain deserves better”.
The British Red Cross executive director, Zoe Abrams, said the humanitarian network was “profoundly concerned” about the plans to “send traumatised people halfway round the world to Rwanda”.
“We are not convinced this drastic measure will deter desperate people from attempting to cross the Channel either. People come here for reasons we can all understand, like wanting to be reunited with loved ones, or because they speak the language. Making it harsher may do little to stop them risking their lives,” she said.
The UN refugee agency has opposed the plans and said they could be challenged under the Refugee Convention.
“[The UN High Commissioner for Refugees] remains firmly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum seekers to third countries in the absence of sufficient safeguards and standards.
“Such arrangements simply shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention,” said UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.
“People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing.”
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