Britain unveils plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

Priti Patel, British Home Secretary, (L) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Vincent Biruta sign an agreement which will see migrants who arrive in Britain illegally be processed in Rwanda. Photo courtesy of the Government of Rwanda/Twitter

April 15 (UPI) — In an effort to tackle illegal immigration, Britain has unveiled a controversial plan to potentially relocate thousands of asylum seekers who enter the island nation via the English Channel to Rwanda.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the plan on Thursday during a press conference during which he described it as an effort to maintain London’s “leading” asylum system while deterring the human trafficking trade following several high-profile fatal incidents in recent months.

“This innovative approach,” he said, “will provide safe and legal pathways to asylum, while disrupting the gang business model, as it means economic migrants taking advantage of the asylum system will not be able to stay. in the UK, while those who really need it will be properly protected, including with access to legal services upon arrival in Rwanda, and given the opportunity to build a new life in this dynamic country.”

However, only those granted refugee status will be allowed to stay in the African nation.

Priti Patel, UK Home Secretary, explained in a video message that the “heart” of the plan is to create an asylum system whose access is based on need and not on the ability to reach their shores via smugglers.

“The cost to the taxpayer and the gross abuse is mounting and the British public has rightly had enough,” she said.

Patel was in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on Thursday to sign the Migration and Economic Development Partnership Agreement with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Vincent Biruta, who said asylum seekers will be invested and offer an education and a job that will not only help them, but Rwanda.

And those who do not wish to stay in the African country will be sent back to their country of origin, Biruta said during the a press conference.

“We believe this partnership with the UK offers a bold, unique and innovative approach that will provide safe haven and opportunities for those in need, and will be the crucial first step towards a more efficient and humane global migration system. “, did he declare.

Below the dealBritain provided an initial payment of around $157 million, which includes funds for vocational, vocational and language education and training.

Alongside the plan, Johnson announced that the Royal Navy would take operational command of the Channel and more than $65 million was allocated to provide the force with new boats, aerial surveillance and military personnel.

“It will send a clear message to those piloting the boats: if you risk other people’s lives in the Channel, you risk spending your own life in prison,” he said.

Asylum seekers arriving on English shores will not be accommodated in hotels but in centers like the camps seen in Greece. Britain will also expand its immigration detention centers to facilitate removal operations, he said.

In an effort to tone down criticism, Johnson said he expects the plan to be challenged in court, despite being “fully consistent with our international legal obligations”.

“We have a plan; what is your alternative? He asked.

Gillian Triggs, deputy high commissioner for protection at the UN Refugee Agency, expressed ‘deep concern’ about the deal, accusing Britain of abdicating its international responsibilities over refugee claimants. asylum to other countries.

“People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy,” she said in a statement. “They should not be exchanged like commodities and transferred abroad for processing.”

While Rwanda has agreed to provide migrants with a safe haven, the majority live in camps with limited access to opportunities, the HRC said, adding that it believes wealthier countries should support Rwanda with refugees. that it currently hosts and not the other way around.

According to the Rwandan government, it is already home to nearly 130,000 refugees.

The implementation of the plan depends on the adoption by Parliament of the National and border bill to overhaul its asylum system to establish asylum benefits can only go to those entering Britain through legal but limited channels. It also introduces a criminal offense for arriving in Britain without permission, illegal entry or overstaying your visa. The penalty can be up to four years in prison.

Although Johnson praised Rwanda for its human rights record, others criticized it, with Amnesty International calling it ‘dismal’ on Thursday and Human Rights Watch saying he had witnessed serious abuses. by similar offshore treatment plans.

“Rwanda has a known history of extrajudicial executions, suspicious deaths in police custody, unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture and abusive prosecution, particularly targeting critics and dissidents,” he said in a statement. A declaration. “In fact, the UK has directly raised its concerns about respect for human rights in Rwanda and is granting asylum to Rwandans who have fled the country, including four in the last year.”

Last year, Britain called Rwanda conducted investigations into alleged judicial executions and deaths in custody, as well as to protect and enable journalists to work freely and to screen, identify and provide support to victims of trafficking, including those detained in detention centres. government transit.

According to UK datathere were 44,190 asylum applications in 2021.

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