Concerns about sending asylum seekers to Rwanda have been dismissed by Home Secretary Priti Patel as unfounded.
In the Times, she and the Rwandan foreign minister presented an innovative solution to the “deadly commerce” of people smuggling. No “humanitarian nation” could tolerate such pain, they claimed.
It comes after Archbishop Justin Welby warned the idea raised “major ethical problems.” Global asylum system “collapsing” due to humanitarian crises and people trafficking, claimed Ms Patel and Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta. Those fleeing persecution will be helped by the proposal to transport some illegal immigrants to Rwanda, where they can apply to settle.
They also said the UK’s £120m investment in Rwanda would assist address the shortage of possibilities that drive economic migration. It’s odd that individuals who dispute the ideas don’t propose their own answers, they wrote. “No humanitarian nation can allow this misery to endure.”
According to the agreement between the two countries, some Rwandan refugees would be relocated to the UK. According to the media, the UK will help Rwanda resettle “some of the most vulnerable refugees.”
The strategy will initially target single men arriving by small boat or lorry. Those transported to Rwanda will be housed while their claims are processed.
If they succeed, they will be able to stay in East Africa. “Subcontracting our responsibilities” is a sin, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Easter Sunday, adding that the scheme cannot “stand the judgement of God”.
“We can do better than this,” stated Archbishop Stephen Cottrell of York. More than 160 charities and advocacy groups called the idea “shamefully inhumane” and urged the prime minister and Ms Patel to cancel it.
The proposal has been branded “unworkable” by Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, the Liberal Democrats as “slamming the door” on refugees, and the SNP’s Ian Blackford as “absolutely terrifying”. The UK had presented claims of extrajudicial executions, disappearances, and torture in Rwanda at the UN last year.
The Times report said Rwanda is “one of the world’s safest countries” and has already taken in 130,000 refugees from various countries. While the home secretary and Rwanda’s foreign minister said the strategy would “deter migrants from risking their life”, a top Home Office officer said the evidence was “very dubious”.
Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft cautioned the measure was expensive and would only be worth it if it reduced unauthorised UK entry.
Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Ms Patel’s ministerial directive was “very rare” in the Home Office.
The notion of processing asylum applicants overseas had been debated by the administration for some time, so she would be keen to see the “accounting for it”.
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