Boris Johnson announces he has signed an agreement with Kigali to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to tighten Britain’s migration policy, making a controversial decision in the process, to say the least. The UK announced on Thursday April 14 that it plans to send asylum seekers who entered the country illegally to Rwanda in hopes of thwarting illegal Channel crossings, which are on the rise.

This project, which probably applies to all people who entered the territory illegally, regardless of where they come from (Iran, Syria, Eritrea, etc.), has provoked outraged reactions. Human rights organizations have denounced him “Inhumanity”. The opposition ruled that after the fine he received for holding a birthday party in full prison, the prime minister tried to divert attention. For its part, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) commented “his strong opposition”:

“People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded like commodities and taken abroad for processing. »

A project that costs 144 million euros

While Mr Johnson had promised to control immigration, a key issue in the Brexit campaign, illegal Channel crossings tripled in 2021, a year notably marked by the deaths of 27 people in a sinking in late November. London regularly accuses Paris of not doing enough to prevent the crossings.

” From now on (…), anyone entering the UK illegally, as well as those who have been entering the UK since 1 Januaryah January can now be moved to Rwanda”, announced the Conservative leader in a speech in Kent (south-east England). Rwanda will be able to host “Tens of thousands of people in the coming years”he added, describing the East African country as one of the “safest in the world, recognized worldwide for its reception and integration of migrants”.

According to the agreement announced on Thursday, London will initially finance the device with 144 million euros. The Rwandan government indicated that it would propose the possibility “to settle permanently in Rwanda [à ces personnes si elles] Wish “.

Eager to regain popularity ahead of next month’s local elections, Mr Johnson and his government have been trying for months to secure deals with third countries where they can send illegal immigrants while they wait for their cases to be processed.

Control of the English Channel is entrusted to the Navy

“Our compassion may be infinite, but our ability to help people is not”said Mr Johnson, anticipating legal challenges against the device. “Those who try to skip the line or abuse our system do not have an automatic route to settle in our country, but are returned quickly and humanely to a safe third country or their country of origin.”he added.

Migrants arriving in the UK are no longer accommodated in hotels but in reception centers like those that exist in Greece, with a first centre “opens soon”announced Mr Johnson.

As part of that plan, which complements a sweeping immigration bill currently in parliament and already under criticism from the United Nations (UN), the government on Thursday will hand over control of illegal Channel crossings to the Navy, which is outfitted with extra equipment. On the other hand, he gave up his plan to push back the boats entering British waters, a measure which was rejected by the French side.

NGOs outraged

By sending asylum seekers more than 6,000km from the UK, London is aiming to discourage the ever-growing number of immigrant candidates: 28,500 people made the dangerous crossing in 2021, up from 8,466 in 2020, according to Home Office figures.

Criticism by Amnesty International “a scandalously poorly thought out idea” who “Will cause suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money”also emphasizes that “dismal human rights record” from Rwanda.

Daniel Sohege, director of the human rights organization Stand For All, told Agence France-Presse the initiative was the government’s “inhumane, impractical and very expensive”and instead recommends opening entry routes into the UK “safer” because those who exist are “very limited”.

Le Monde and AFP

Leave a Comment