It is inhumane, shallow, costly, and counterproductive to send refugees from Rwanda to the UK.
What is the problem Rwanda can solve? It can’t be that the government wants to deter refugees coming here on account of there being too many. After all, the UK’s island status means that we take at least three times fewer refugees than
France has four times the number of Germans than France. We took the 18ThThe EU has the highest number of asylum seekers per head.
Is it to decrease the number of people who travel across the English channel in dangerous ways? Officially, yes. But, in reality, I am sure that the government knows it won’t do that at all.
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Last week, I visited Calais. I met people whose stories would make even the most strong of us cry. They have escaped war and persecution, embarked on a long and miserable journey north – often via the lawless, violent, state of Libya. They have crossed the Mediterranean (one young Sudanese male I spoke with had seen 42 of his friends die in the attempt), then they travel through Europe to Calais. In Calais, they are treated despicably – their tents and sleeping bags are destroyed every couple of nights by the police. It is obvious that these people won’t be deterred from attempting the final leg of their journey to the UK by the chance of being sent to Rwanda.
My fear is that people who want to come to the UK for family, linguistic, and cultural reasons will just try to return to Rwanda to find a new, more lucrative, and more dangerous market for traffickers.
How can we stop these lethal boat trips across the channel? It seems to me that if we provide safe routes to Britain, we will end our need for dangerous ones. Most people, including those from Sudan who we met in Calais were aware that there is no safe route into the UK. Yet, 95% percent of Sudanese asylum requests are granted refugee status by the UK. This indicates that they aren’t economic migrants but refugees in need of protection.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians seek refuge in the UK. But I didn’t see any Ukrainians sleeping rough in Calais, waiting to take a dangerous boat journey over the Channel. Why not? We have made it possible for Ukrainians to use the safe route to reach the UK from mainland Europe, and to apply for refuge in the UK. It’s not perfect, but it’s a safe route. So, there’s your answer.
We spoke with the Calais conservative MP who stated that France supports refugees seeking asylum in the UK. He also indicated that the UK has support for those who have been sent to France from France. If the UK government picked up the phone to the French government, it could open a conversation that would end the smugglers’ business model overnight, giving us that chance to treat refugees the way we would wish to be treated if we were in their position. As the people of Ukraine can testify, you never know when it could be you and your children…
It would also be far cheaper than paying for private accommodation and flights to send people four hundred miles away. If we were looking for a solution to a real problem, that is what we would do. This option is not being considered by the government, and I am afraid I cannot escape the conclusion it is sticking to its current policy simply because it believes that it is a vote-winner. They are especially keen on their being a legal battle with “bleeding heart liberal lawyers” which will help their culture war narrative. It is so utterly transparent, it’s an insult to our intelligence as well as to basic decency.