Britain to dump over 28,000 asylum seekers in Rwanda
Britain has arranged with Rwanda to send some asylum-seekers to the African country, a move that opposition politicians and refugee groups condemned as unworkable and inhumane.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is due to announce details in Rwanda on Thursday of what the U.K. government is calling an “economic development partnership.”
Media reports say the government plan would see some single men who arrive in Britain from across the English Channel in small boats flown 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed.
Simon Hart, the government minister for Wales, said the arrangement would cost Britain about 120 million pounds ($158 million). He said the goal was to “break up” the business model of criminal people-smuggling gangs.
“(If) we have an arrangement with the Rwandan government for the proper and humane treatment of these people, then the criminal gangs will realize that their potential source of income will dry up,” Hart said.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee director at Amnesty International U.K., said the government’s “shockingly ill-conceived idea will go far further in inflicting suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money.” He said Rwanda’s “dismal” human rights record made the idea even worse.
The chief executive of the U.K.-based organization Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, called it a “cruel and hasty decision” and predicted it would not stop people-smuggling gangs.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to make a speech Thursday about stopping the smugglers behind the Channel crossings.
According to his office, Johnson will say that action is needed to stop “vile people smugglers (who) are abusing the vulnerable and turning the Channel into a watery graveyard, with men, women, and children drowning in unseaworthy boats and suffocating in refrigerated lorries.”
Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain, either by stowing away in trucks or on ferries.