December 9, 2022

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UK-Rwanda migrant deal: UK announces controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

UK-Rwanda migrant deal: UK announces controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the plan as “an innovative approach, driven by our common humanitarian drive and made possible by the freedoms of Brexit”, on Thursday, saying that with the UK’s help, Rwanda would have the capacity to resettle “tens of thousands of people in years”. coming.”

Speaking at a joint press conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Thursday, British Home Secretary Priti Patel He said people relocated to Rwanda “will receive support including up to five years of training, integration, residency and health care, so that they can resettle and thrive.”
Battle He also called the plan a “New Joint Partnership on Migration and Economic Development”, saying the UK was “making significant investments in Rwanda’s economic development”.

Patel insisted the agreement was meant to improve the UK’s asylum system, which she said has faced “a mix of genuine humanitarian crises and vicious human smugglers who profit by exploiting the system for their own gain”.

When a reporter asked about the criteria for resettlement, Patel said: “We are very clear that everyone who enters the UK illegally will be considered for resettlement and transfer to Rwanda, and I will not disclose specific criteria for a number of reasons.”

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Perrota said Rwanda is happy to work with the UK.

When asked if Rwanda has the infrastructure to host the influx, Birota said the country has the capacity to receive migrants and will invest in new infrastructure to educate and accommodate migrants with UK support.

Perrota added that the program would only be for people seeking asylum in the UK who are in the UK, and that they “prefer not to take in people from their immediate neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania.”

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“trade like commodities”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed “strong opposition and concerns” about the plan and urged the two countries to reconsider it.

“People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve sympathy and sympathy,” Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Treggs said in a statement. “They should not be bartered like goods and taken overseas for processing.”

“UNHCR remains strongly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum-seekers to third countries in the absence of adequate safeguards and standards. Such arrangements simply alter asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and run counter to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention,” he said. Triggs.

UNHCR also said the plan would increase risks and cause refugees to seek alternative routes, increasing pressure on frontline countries.

“Experience shows that these agreements are usually very expensive. They often violate international law. They do not lead to solutions, rather large-scale detention or further smuggling,” UNHCR chief legal officer Larry Botnik told Britain’s Times Radio on. Thursday.

Human Rights Watch strongly criticized the plan, and issued a strongly worded document statment.

“Rwanda’s appalling human rights record is well documented,” she added.

“Rwanda has a known record of extrajudicial killings, suspicious deaths in custody, unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture, and arbitrary trials, particularly targeting critics and opponents. Indeed, the UK has directly raised its concerns about respecting human rights with Rwanda, It grants asylum to Rwandans who have fled the country, including four in the last year,” adding that “at a time when the people of the United Kingdom have opened their hearts and homes to Ukrainians, the government is choosing to act cruelly and tear apart their obligations to others fleeing war and persecution.”

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Steve Valdez Symonds, director of refugee and migrant affairs at Amnesty International UK, described the plan as “horribly ill-conceived”.

“Sending people to another country – not to mention one with such a poor human rights record – to ‘process’ asylum is the height of irresponsibility and shows how far the government is from the humanity and reality now with regard to asylum issues,” Symonds said in a statment.

Johnson said that as part of the new plan, the British Royal Navy would take over operational command from the English Channel Border Force “with the aim that no boat reaches the UK undetected”.

He added that the law also allows UK authorities to prosecute those who arrive illegally with “life imprisonment for those driving boats”.

The English Channel, a narrow waterway between Britain and France, is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Refugees and migrants fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in the world’s poorest or war-torn countries risk dangerous crossing, often in boats unfit for voyage and at the mercy of people-smugglers, in the hope of seeking asylum or economic opportunity in Britain.

last november, 27 people drowned In the deadly cold waters off the coast of France after a rubber boat carrying migrants bound for Britain capsized, in one of the deadliest accidents in the English Channel in recent years.

CNN’s Kara Fox and Helen Reagan contributed to this report.