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‘Utterly reprehensible’ – Refugee Council slams UK plans to offshore asylum seekers in Rwanda

Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has announced an agreement that would see asylum seekers crossing the English Channel taken to Rwanda for their applications to be processed.

The agreement with Rwanda, reportedly cost an initial £120m and follows three years of promises by the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to outsource the country’s asylum processing to third countries and the refusal from both Albania and Ghana.

During his announcement, the Prime Minister insisted that “Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world” whilst also lashing out at lawyers who may oppose the bill as being “politically motivated”.

The decision to offshore asylum application was inspired by Australia’s widely condemned immigration policies which see their authorities intercept boats to ensure refugee processing does not occur on the Australian mainland. These policies have contributed to the increasing number of detention centres, where many have languished for years.

(Photo credit: Chatham House)


Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, has slammed the measure stressing that it is “unworkable, unethical and extortionate”. The Scotsman reports that the accommodation in Rwanda is believed to have enough space for around 100 people at a time and to process up to 500 a year. Nearly 29,000 migrants crossed the Channel in 2021.

The International Truth and Justice Project stressed that Tamil torture survivors have had to make this perilous journey and will be impacted by this measure.

Lewis Goodall, a reporter for BBC Newsnight, also criticised the measure highlighting the government’s concerns over reports of torture and deaths in custody within Rwanda.

Responding to the announcement Chief executive of Scotland’s Refugee Council, Sabir Zazai, lambasted the move to an Australian style system which he described as a “failed system mired in human rights abuses”.

“Once again, the government is stepping back from its legal and moral obligations and shunting responsibilities onto other bodies, in this case, a country which has only a fraction of the wealth and resources. A truly global Britain would proudly play a leading role in international protection, and create a fair and efficient asylum system of which we can all be proud and which would cost far less than throwing money at this doomed venture” he stated.

He further added:

“The truth is, any of us could be forced to flee our homes at short notice. Any of us would want to be treated with dignity and respect at one of the most challenging times of our life. Yet this is increasingly very far from the reality a person seeking protection in the UK”.

He further stressed that:

“The UK cannot claim to stand with Ukraine at the same time as it rolls out a regime of punishment and violence under the guise of deterrence for people who are only looking to find safety and rebuild their lives.

Read more here and here.

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