UK plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday announced plans to send some asylum seekers thousands of miles to Rwanda to process their applications, a significant stiffening of migration policy.

The British government has so far been unable to contain the arrival of a small but steady stream of people dangerous crossroadsoften in unreliable boats, via English Channel from Francedisappointed Mr. Johnson.

In return, the UK will pay Rwanda £120 million, or about $157 million, to fund “opportunities for Rwandans and migrants” including education, secondary qualifications, skills and vocational training as well as as language lessons, the Rwandan government said in a statement.

Human rights groups have expressed concern that the move could encourage other countries to adopt the process of “extending” refugee status, and the plan has been met with a storm of political opposition. opposition activists and charities who worry about the principle behind policy and choice in Rwanda, a country whose record of British rights has previously been questioned.

Details of the proposals were still published on Thursday but, according to BBC, it will apply to men entering the UK by illegal means. The Rwandan government says those transferred to the country will be offered a “lawful pathway to residency” if their claim is successful.

With limited legal routes for refugees to enter the UK, that could effectively prevent many from making any asylum claims that would allow them to live in the country.

“The Government of Rwanda is pleased to confirm a bold new partnership with the United Kingdom, which will take an innovative approach to addressing the global migration crisis,” the government said in a statement. its statement. “A broken system of migration and asylum is failing to protect vulnerable people and fueling criminal gangs that smuggle people at the expense of people.”

Before the announcement, Downing Street said that the government would provide details of “the world’s first migration and economic development partnership signed by the home secretary, Priti Patel, with Rwanda” .”

While the number of people arriving in Britain in small boats is limited by international standards, the English Channel routes have become a persistent confusion for the government led by Mr Johnson.

In 2016 he successfully campaigned for Brexit, arguing that it would allow the country to “take back control” of its borders and that the growing number of visitors along Britain’s coast was one clear symbol for failure to do so.

In his speech, Mr Johnson said Britain “cannot maintain a parallel illegal system. Our compassion may be limitless, but our ability to help others is not. ”

Yvette Cooper, who speaks for the opposition Labor Party on family issues, described the plan as “unworkable, unethical and disproportionate.”

That is, she wrote on Twitter“a desperate and truly shameful announcement” and “an attempt to distract from the law-breaking behavior of Boris Johnson”, following Tuesday’s police decision against fined the prime minister for breaking the door lock rule by attending a birthday party in Downing Street.

Ian Blackford, the leader of Scottish National Party lawmakers in the UK Parliament, told the BBC the proposal was “absolutely cold.”

There are signs that even those who support the idea in principle are not convinced.

In an editorialThe Daily Mail, a pro-Brexit newspaper and backer of efforts to limit migration, backed, but it said the proposal was “full of difficulties”, noting that previous attempts by Britain to limit the flow of migrants across the English Channel. failure.

From paying France to kill people smugglers to armored jet skis returning to illegal canoes, not a single Interior Ministry gimmick until Now it’s been successful.”

Parliament is discussing a legal framework to move Refugees out of the country while their applications are processed and arrest those arriving by boat through the English Channel.

Other countries have tried similar tactics to try to stem the migrants, including Australia, which has used refugee processing centers on Pacific islands like Nauru. In September, Danish Parliament passed a law allowing the country to resettle asylum seekers outside of Europe to assess their asylum claims, despite criticism from human rights groups and the United Nations.

Rwanda has previously offered to take in migrants stranded elsewhere. In 2017, it offer to receive up to 30,000 African migrants have faced discrimination, trafficking and violence while in Libya.

Central African country also there is a deal with the African Union and the UN refugee agency to continue the evacuation and reception of refugees and immigrants from Libya until 2023.

Those arriving at domestic emergency transit centers have the option of resettling to third countries, returning home or to their previous country of refuge, or remaining in Rwanda.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Rwandan government said it was taking in 130,000 refugees from countries including neighboring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last August, it also receive Students, teachers and families of an all-girls boarding school fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country.

The migration pact comes just weeks after Johnston Busingye, Rwanda’s new high commissioner to the UK, arrived in London. The British government has pressed to block Mr. Busingye’s appointment highlights his role in the arrest of dissident Paul Rusesabagina.

Last February, Mr. Busingye accidentally admitted in a video released by Al Jazeera English that he had seen privileged legal documents related to Mr Rusesabagina’s case and that the Rwandan government had paid for the private jet to take him from the Emirate United Arab Emirates to the Rwandan capital Kigali.

The trial of Mr. Rusesabagina, who helped save thousands of lives during the Rwandan genocide and inspired the movie “Hotel Rwanda”, and 25 year sentence he received last September, has come under widespread criticism from human rights groups, who say the proceedings representatives “More public spectacle than judicial commitment.”

Stephen Castle reported from London and Abdi Latif Dahir from Nairobi, Kenya.

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