This is a dark day. If a society can be judged on how we treat the most vulnerable, then this policy makes us look like we’ve really lost our way.
Nearly all of people who cross the channel do so to seek asylum, and more than three quarters receive it. That means our government recognise that these people are in danger and that they need support.
But instead of providing that support and the dignity that everyone deserves, we are sending some of the world’s most vulnerable people – people who have fled war, some who may have survived torture and modern day slavery – thousands of miles away to a country they have no connection to, no family or friends, and to a place which has a proven poor human rights record. The UK government itself has denounced Rwanda’s human rights record as recently as last year.
There is nothing moral or right about this plan. It is cruelty personified. Here’s why:
Proportionally the UK takes a tiny number of refugees. Those who come tend to do so because of language and family ties. This policy will not deter people from making the dangerous crossings – if you have strong connections to this country, if you speak the language, if you’re family are here – you will try to get here.
If people had safe ways to get here, they would take them. This government has created a situation where people are forced to take unsafe routes – right now there are almost no safe ways to reach the UK.
Even people we promised to help in Afghanistan, people who worked for the British military, have been left for so long that they have been forced to make their own to reach family in the UK. Often by crossing the channel, and therefore risk being removed to Rwanda.
We desperately need more safe routes, without them, the government are pushing people into the hands of criminal gangs. This policy will make things much worse, not only will the gangs not be deterred, but whole new smuggling routes will open to get people out of Rwanda. That’s not to mention the risk of exploitation and trafficking people already in the UK will face if, driven by fear of removal to Rwanda, they drop off the radar.
This is setting such a dangerous precedent. If the UK, one of the world’s richest countries, won’t accept its global responsibilities, why would any other country?
Our government are spending an astronomical amount of money on a pointless policy, it’s only achievement will be to destroy the lives of a very small group of already incredibly vulnerable people.