Build a new life in Rwanda instead of the UK. According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this should from now on be a “ghost” for migrants trying to reach the United Kingdom illegally.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday far-reaching agreements with Rwanda on the reception of asylum seekers. Rwanda will receive £ 120 million (about € 144 million) to receive asylum seekers who have come to the UK. The money is intended for the reception, accommodation and integration of asylum seekers, but also for the economic development of Rwanda itself.
According to Johnson, the scheme aims to disrupt the “lucrative and evil business model of people smugglers, those who“ abuse the vulnerable and turn the Channel into a water graveyard ”. The British government has for some time been planning to receive asylum seekers in a third country and wait for them to proceed outside the UK, but now, for the first time, it has managed to conclude concrete agreements.
This is a prototype solution to global migration problems, a solution that other countries are likely to adopt
The plan is mainly intended to deter young men who cross the canal by ships from France. A maximum number of asylum seekers has not been agreed, Rwanda is said to be ready to accept tens of thousands of people in the coming years. Such agreements, Johnson said Thursday, are “a prototype solution to global migration problems, something other countries are likely to adopt.” Johnson admitted that he could not guarantee that this would interrupt the dangerous voyages by boat.
It is not clear when the first asylum seekers would be put on the plane. According to the British BBC, accommodation for about a hundred people is already available in Rwanda at the same time. According to the British government, a new law is not needed. However, the Parliament is about to pass a controversial law that explicitly allows this type of expulsion to third countries.
‘Cruel and inhumane’
British opposition parties and human rights groups have reacted very critically, calling the plan “cruel and inhumane”. Because Rwanda is not known as a country that attaches great importance to human rights, but also because the agreements are contrary to the Geneva Refugee Convention. The agreement, which was also signed by the United Kingdom, stipulates that governments must not accept asylum seekers who have sought asylum illegally. After all, they are in danger in their country. Johnson said refugees must choose a “safe and legal route”, but the United Kingdom does not offer a way to apply for asylum from abroad at all.
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The agreements reached are part of a larger plan to restore Britain’s “return to control of its own borders” after the country leaves the European Union. The army will from now on help the Coast Guard on the Channel, with additional patrol boats and helicopters. And in the north of England there will be a new reception center to reduce hotel costs of £ 4.7 million (€ 5.6 million) that the government spends daily on asylum seekers. Earlier, Interior Minister Priti Patel wanted the ships back in the canal, but that controversial measure is no longer the case. The Navy has already informed her that she will not cooperate.
In recent years, the number of migrants crossing the canal in small boats has risen sharply. In 2018, there were about 300, in 2020 more than 8,400, and last year more than 28,000. Many of them did not survive the trip. In November last year, 27 people in an overloaded inflatable boat died in one fell swoop. However, this year the number of migrants who dare to cross is already higher than last year at about this time. This increase is probably due in part to tighter controls on alternative routes, such as truck checks.
Most migrants who dare to cross the crossing by boat, about 60 per cent, are granted asylum in the UK. Refugees come from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, where human rights violations are common. This is at odds with the image that Minister Patel likes to portray that all migrants are ‘happiness seekers’ and should not be entitled to asylum in the UK.