BRITAIN has announced a controversial and inexplicable new asylum policy that will involve it sending send migrants and asylum-seekers thousands of miles away to Rwanda where they will now reside.
Although it is not yet clear if this will involve everybody or just Africans, the policy is aimed at clamping down on the number of people given refuge in the UK. Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the controversial policy in a speech he gave at the port city of Dover in southeastern England.
Mr Johnson said: “From today, anyone entering the UK illegally as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1 may now be relocated to Rwanda. Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead.”
He added that Rwanda us one of the safest countries in the world, and is recognised globally for its record of welcoming and integrating migrants. Mr Johnson who was elected partly because he promised to curb illegal immigration also announced that Britain’s border agency would hand responsibility for patrolling the British Channel for migrant boats to the Royal Navy.
“The Royal Navy will take over operational command from Border Force in the Channel with the aim that no boat makes it to the UK undetected. This will send a clear message to those piloting the boats that if you risk other people’s lives in the Channel, you risk spending your own life in prison,” Mr Johnson said.
He also announced extra funds for boats, aircraft and surveillance equipment to help detect people-smugglers at sea. More than 28,000 people arrived in Britain having crossed the Channel from France in small boats in 2021, around 90% of them were male and three-quarters were aged between 18 and 39.
Mr Johnson’s Rwanda plan swiftly drew the ire of opposition politicians who accused him of trying to distract from his being fined for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules. Human rights groups slammed the project as inhumane.
Ghana and Rwanda had previously been mentioned as possible locations for the UK to outsource the processing of migrants but in January, Ghana denied involvement. However, Rwanda announced during a visit by British Home Secretary Priti Patel, that it has signed a multi-million-dollar deal to do the job.
This deal with Rwanda will be funded by the UK to the tune of up to £120m ($157m), with migrants integrated into communities across the country. Refugee Action’s Tim Naor Hilton accused the government of offshoring its responsibilities onto Europe’s former colonies instead of doing its fair share to help some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.
He added: “This grubby cash-for-people plan would be a cowardly, barbaric and inhumane way to treat people fleeing persecution and war. At the same time, the UK currently gives asylum to Rwandan refugees fleeing political persecution.”
Detention Action said that those sent to Rwanda would likely face indefinite detention under a government notorious for violent persecution of dissent. Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf, added that the plan showed that this Conservative government was institutionally racist.
He added: “The government rightly provides asylum and refuge to Ukrainians fleeing war but wants to send others seeking asylum thousands of miles away to Rwanda for processing.” Australia has a policy of sending asylum seekers arriving by boat to detention camps on the Pacific island nation of Nauru, with Canberra vowing no asylum seeker arriving by boat would ever be allowed to permanently settle in Australia.