More than 160 charities and campaign groups have called on the government to abandon “shamefully cruel” plans to send asylum seekers across the English Channel to Rwanda in small boats.
Boris Johnson has insisted his plan to detain and fly migrants over 4,000 miles to East Africa at taxpayers’ expense is not ‘draconian and lacking in compassion’.
But Bond, the UK NGO network, and more than 160 other UK organizations have condemned the plan, saying it is ‘fundamentally out of step with the broad public support for refugees in the UK’.
In an open letter to Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel, the signatories demanded that the government abandon the programme, halt plans to review the Human Rights Act and “instead create humane and humane solutions”. effective’ for those seeking refuge in the UK.
“Sending asylum seekers to Rwanda will cause immense suffering, with the most vulnerable people paying the price,” they wrote.
“It is a disgracefully cruel way to treat people who have come to the UK seeking protection, fleeing persecution or conflict.”
They said sending asylum seekers to Rwanda would be “cruel and immoral”, criticizing the country’s human rights record.
The organizations said the government’s plan would result in “more, not less, dangerous journeys – leaving more people at risk of being trafficked”.
They also warned that the cost of the plan would be “astronomical”.
How much money to spend on the program remains unclear, but the Home Secretary has struck a £120m economic deal with Rwanda and money for each move is expected to follow.
“The UK government has pledged £120m to Rwanda for a ‘trial,'” the letter said.
“This would be in addition to detention, transportation, escort and legal and administrative costs.
“It is ridiculous that such large sums are being spent on this plan when the government refuses to help those affected by the cost of living crisis.”
He also warned that the carbon footprint generated by the flights would be “huge” and “cannot be justified at this critical time in the climate crisis”.
The organizations posed a series of questions for the government to answer about the program, including whether people will be forced to fly to Rwanda if they don’t want to go.
They also asked if those sent to the country would include survivors of torture, survivors of trafficking, children and people with serious mental health issues.
The letter added: “Ultimately, these plans are fundamentally out of step with public attitudes towards refugees.
“While the Home Office floundered in its response to Ukrainians and Afghans seeking safety in the UK, the general public indicated that it welcomes refugees.
“This plan simply cannot be passed – we urge you to abandon these plans and the Nationality and Borders Bill, which has yet to pass and has drawn strong opposition in the House of Lords. We also oppose the proposed overhaul of the Human Rights Act.
Earlier, Mr Johnson said the partnership would be “fully consistent with our international legal obligations”, while insisting that Rwanda is “one of the safest countries in the world” and is “globally renowned for its record of welcoming and integrating migrants”.
A government spokesperson said: “The world is facing a global migration crisis of unprecedented scale. With an estimated 80 million people displaced worldwide, changes are needed to fix the broken global asylum system and stop despicable smugglers from putting people’s lives at risk.
“As part of our reform plans, we have signed a leading migration partnership with Rwanda which will see those who arrive unsafely, illegally or unnecessarily in the UK relocated to have their asylum claims considered and , if they are recognized as refugees, to build their lives there.
“This will help break the smuggler business model and prevent loss of life, while ensuring the protection of the truly vulnerable.”