East Africa

Asylum applicants from the United Kingdom will be sent to Rwanda for processing.

According to UK government plans, some asylum seekers would be airlifted to Rwanda to have their claims processed.

Boris Johnson is expected to reveal the proposals tomorrow, when Home Secretary Priti Patel seals an agreement with the African country on migration.

Single men arriving in Britain via Channel crossings could be forced removed, according to BBC home editor Mark Easton.

The plans have been criticized as cruel by refugee organizations, who have called for a rethink.

The plan is “unworkable, unethical, and extortionate,” according to Labour, and is intended to “distract” attention away from Mr Johnson’s fine for violating Covid-19 laws.

The proposal, according to the Liberal Democrats, would be both costly and useless.

Rwanda, which is a Commonwealth member, is slated to receive an initial £120 million as part of the trial, but critics claim the complete scheme’s yearly cost would be much higher.

Mr Johnson will argue in a speech in Kent that action is needed to prevent “vile people smugglers” from turning the seas into a “watery tomb.”

The number of people known to have crossed the English Channel in small boats increased to 28,526 last year, up from 8,404 in 2020.

On Wednesday, about 600 people crossed the border, and Mr Johnson expects that number to rise to 1,000 every day in the coming weeks.

“A parallel illegal system cannot be sustained,” he would remark. “Our compassion is limitless, but our ability to serve others is limiting.”

The prime minister will reveal measures to give the navy operational control of the Channel, breaking people-smuggling gangs’ economic model and deterring individuals from trying the crossing.

Mr Johnson will say the measures are part of the government’s long-term plan to “regain control of unlawful immigration” after Brexit.

While the number of persons crossing the Channel by boat has climbed, fewer people used other modes of transport last year, such as by lorry, due to heightened security at the Port of Calais.

The Rwanda collaboration is the centerpiece of a broader policy push to cope with what has been a humiliating setback for ministers who pledged control of Britain’s borders as part of Brexit.

Instead, record numbers of asylum seekers have begun arriving in Dover’s white cliffs in dinghies. This year has already received 4,578 visitors, which appears to be a new high.

Sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, on the other hand, is likely to be very divisive and legally risky.

Rwanda’s dismal human rights record has been cited by critics. Last year, the United Kingdom ordered inquiries into alleged killings, disappearances, and torture at the United Nations.

Ministers would have to explain why Rwanda is the best location to entrust with safeguarding the human rights of vulnerable asylum seekers who had hoped for protection from the UK.

Approval of powers is pending.
A clause in the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill allows for the establishment of offshore immigration processing centers for asylum claimants.

The bill is making its way through Parliament, but with the session set to finish in a few weeks, there isn’t much time left to pass it.

MPs are presently on recess, but when they return, they will consider a number of amendments, including one relating to authority to process asylum cases overseas.

The bill has been criticized and has provoked protests, and the government has suffered a series of setbacks in the House of Lords.

Offshoring asylum applications has been rejected by Labour and the SNP, and the UN’s high commissioner for refugees has stated that it “would constitute a breach of the UK’s international commitments.”

The idea to process asylum claimants outside of the United States was initially disclosed by the New York Times last year.

The Home Office had discussed the proposals with its counterparts in Denmark, which has approved legislation allowing it to send asylum seekers to countries outside Europe, according to the newspaper.

‘More anguish’
Human rights activists have criticized the plan’s impact on refugees’ human rights, as well as the scheme’s cost and if it will really achieve its goals.

The idea would not “address the reasons why individuals pursue risky voyages to find refuge in the UK,” according to Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council.

He claimed that the policy would “only result in more human suffering, chaos, and at a huge cost of £1.4 billion each year.”

Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, Steve Valdez-Symonds, branded the plan as a “shockingly ill-conceived notion” that will cause more misery and waste “vast amounts” of public funds.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said the idea “would cost the UK taxpayer billions during a cost-of-living crisis and would make it harder, not easier, to secure speedy and impartial asylum rulings.”

The Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said the UK has a strong history of granting refuge to individuals in need.

“Thousands of people are welcoming migrants into their homes,” he continued, “but this Conservative government is shutting the door in their faces.”

The thought of sending “vulnerable people” to Rwanda, according to Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader, is “absolutely terrifying,” adding, “This is not the mark of a civilised country.” It’s terrible.”

 

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