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Britain plans to send migrants to Rwanda with a tougher asylum position

  • The policy is aimed at migration across the English Channel in small boats
  • Thousands could be sent to Rwanda on a Johnson deal
  • The policy faces legal challenges, but -PM will be implemented
  • Opposition says move is “blackmailing, unenforceable, unethical”

DUNJENES, England / Kigali, 14 April (Reuters) – Britain could send tens of thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda to resettle, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday, outlining a tougher approach to breaking up human trafficking networks. stopping the flow of migrants through the canal.

Concerns about immigration were a major factor in the Brexit vote in 2016, and Johnson was under pressure to keep his promise to “take back control” of Britain’s borders, but his plan drew quick criticism from the opposition and charities.

“We need to ensure that the only way to asylum in the UK is safe and legal,” Johnson said in a speech in Kent, South East England, where thousands of migrants in small boats landed on the English Channel last year.

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“Those who try to skip the queue or abuse our systems will not find an automatic way to set them up in our country, but rather will be quickly and humanely transferred to a safe third country or country of origin,” he said. conservatives.

Anyone who has arrived illegally in Britain since January 1 could now be relocated to Rwanda, East Africa, which would disrupt the business model of human smuggling gangs, he said.

“The deal we have made is unlimited and Rwanda will have the capacity to settle tens of thousands of people in the coming years,” he said.


The plan drew strong criticism from opposition parties, with Labor counterpart Pritty Patel’s colleague Yvette Cooper, Yvette Cooper, saying it was costly, “unfeasible and unethical”.

Concerns were also expressed about the human rights situation in Rwanda, which the British government itself noted last year.

Johnson said Rwanda was “one of the safest countries in the world”, but added that the risk of being in the country would prove to be a “significant deterrent” over time.

Patel signed the partnership agreement in Kigali on Thursday, and she presented it at a joint press conference with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta.

Biruta said Rwanda’s recent history has given it “a deep connection to the plight of those seeking security and opportunities in a new land.” Rwanda has already received nearly 130,000 refugees from many countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Afghanistan and Libya, he added.

Rwandan opposition leader Victor Ingabire said the country is hospitable, but must first resolve its internal problems.

Johnson said the plan would face legal challenges, but said the partnership was “fully compliant” with international legal obligations. The government will provide the initial £ 120 million ($ 158 million).


A government minister said the plan was aimed at single young men. “These are mainly male economic migrants,” Welsh Secretary of State Simon Hart told Sky News. “There are different sets of problems with women and children.”

Opposition lawmakers said Johnson was trying to divert attention from renewed calls for him to resign after being fined by police on Tuesday for attending a rally for his birthday in June 2020, when social mixing was nearly banned under the rules. for COVID-19, introduced by his government. Read more

Last year, more than 28,000 migrants and refugees moved from continental Europe to Britain. The arrival of migrants in shaky boats is a source of tension between France and Britain, especially after 27 migrants drowned when their boat sank in November. Read more

“About 600 landed on the English Channel yesterday. In just a few weeks, it could reach a thousand a day again,” Johnson said.

The new approach will allow the Royal Navy to take over operational command from the English Channel, he said, and Greek-style accommodation centers will open in Britain.

The head of a refugee advocacy group said the plan violated the principle of providing a fair hearing to asylum seekers on British soil.

“I think it’s quite unusual that the government is obsessed with control, instead of focusing on competence and compassion,” Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, told BBC radio.

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Screenwriters by Paul Sandal, Kylie McClellan and Michael Holden; Edited by Elaine Hardcastle, Catherine Evans, Tomasz Janowski and Gareth Jones

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