On Saturday, Britain’s Home Secretary arrived in Rwanda as part of a trip meant to show how seriously the British government takes a controversial plan to send some asylum-seekers to Africa.
The migration policy “will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys,” Suella Braverman said before her visit.
A deportation agreement was signed with Rwanda last year as part of the Conservative government’s efforts to discourage migrants from making the dangerous journey across the English Channel to the United Kingdom. In 2022, over 45,000 people sailed to Britain, up from 8,500 the previous year.
Asylum claims for some migrants arriving in the UK via small boats would be processed in Rwanda under the proposed plan. Those who were granted asylum would not return to the United Kingdom but instead remain in the African country.
The $170 million ($140 million) plan has been bogged down in litigation, and no workers have been dispatched to Rwanda as of yet. After the European Court of Human Rights ruled the plan carried “a real risk of irreversible harm” in June, the UK was forced to abruptly cancel the first deportation flight.
Human rights organizations argue that it is inhumane to force people to relocate more than 6,400 kilometers to a country where they have no interest in living. They point to Rwanda’s poor human rights record as evidence.
A group of Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian asylum-seekers were given permission to appeal the British government’s decision to relocate them to a new country earlier this week.
Braverman defended the plan by saying it would help Rwandans “rebuild their lives in a new country” and increase the country’s GDP by creating new jobs and improving existing ones.
A meeting with President Paul Kagame and her counterpart, Vincent Biruta, to iron out the kinks in the deportation pact is scheduled for her upcoming travels.
A “cash-for-humans” policy is how Freedom from Torture’s CEO, Sonya Sceats, referred to it.
Instead of enforcing this “inhumane and unworkable policy,” she urged ministers to “establish safe routes to the UK and tackle the unacceptable backlog of asylum claims” so that refugees could return home and start over in peace and safety.