MPs have claimed that the government’s attempts “find a silver bullet solution” to end channel crossings will fail.
In a report published today, the House of Commons’ home affairs committee finds that the asylum agreement with Rwanda so far shows no evidence of being a deterrent. It calls on the government for a fix to the asylum system that continues struggle with a backlog in case despite little growth overall.
Crossings with small boats continue to increase. In 2021, 285,000 people arrived in Britain. By 2022, 14,000 had already arrived. The total number of arrivals is expected to rise to 60,000 by the year’s end. The 20-mile journey is across the world’s busiest shipping lane and hazardous in the small craft commonly used. At least 166 people have died trying to cross the border, 27 of them in one day.
The government’s attempts to find a single low-cost solution to block this entry route are unrealistic and unlikely to succeed, the report states. People have been threatened with being forced to fly to Rwanda without any chance of returning to the UK, but this has not stopped them from making the dangerous crossing of the Channel. It is difficult to understand and implement good policy because of their motivations and their lack of understanding about what will happen when arriving in the UK.
Political red tape is a threat to shooting in Wales
Firearms licensing failures impeding shooting sector
MPs claim that a deterrent scheme that works would have to stop small boats leaving France. They claim that people who have a valid asylum claim shouldn’t have to risk their lives to travel to the UK. Individual schemes have been created to support resettlement to the UK in response to international crises. However, most asylum applications must be made once you arrive in the UK.
The report also argues that “safe and legal routes” need to be established to support those with an asylum claim entering the UK. The French government has agreed to allow UK asylum processing facilities to be established in France. This will allow claims to be evaluated in France.
MPs say a “fair and efficient” system will need t be fully costed and that the UK must work on tandem with European partners to ensure its success.
The report also argues that the government ought to reveal the detailed costings for its Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda, including the costs for relocation- if part of its reasoning is that it will reduce the £1.5 billion current cost.
Publishing the report, the committee’s chair Dame Diana Johnson said: “The failure to ensure safe routes are available to all those who would have a rightful asylum claim leaves people little choice but to use drastic measures to get here. Despite much sabre rattling about whether people should apply for asylum in the first country they reach, the government has been slow to make arrangements with international partners to facilitate returns. Its deterrent policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda seems to have gone unnoticed.
Cross the Channel
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais- a charity the provides aid to asylum seekers in Belgium and France-welcomed the report, stating: “The Rwanda scheme currently serves only to punish those seeking safety and will not succeed in preventing people smuggling. We have repeatedly seen that policies based on intimidation do not work.
“We also welcome the recommendation that one solution is to work on safe and legal routes. We are not sure France would agree to set up French asylum processing centres. However, we do understand that the committee considered this possibility.
“We believe that a better alternative to stop people-smuggling would be to issue travel-only visas to other refugees in the same way they have been issued to Ukrainian refugees. On arrival in the UK, these refugees can then claim asylum.”
Politics.co.uk reached several other organizations for comment.