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

  • Politics targets migration across channels in small boats
  • Thousands could be sent to Rwanda by appointment – Johnson
  • Politics faces legal challenges but will be implemented -PM
  • The opposition says the action is “blackmailing, useless, unethical”

DUNGENESS, England / KIGALI April 14 (Reuters) – Britain can send tens of thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda to be resettled, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, setting out a tougher approach to breaking human trafficking networks and curbing the flow of migrants across. the channel.

Concerns about immigration were a major factor in the Brexit vote in 2016, and Johnson has been under pressure to deliver on his promise to “take control back” across Britain’s borders, but his plan was quickly criticized by the opposition and charities.

“We must ensure that the only way to asylum in the UK is a safe and legal road,” Johnson said in a speech in Kent in the south-east of England, where thousands of migrants in small boats landed on the Channel’s beaches last year.

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“Those who try to jump in the queue or abuse our systems will not find any automatic way to set them up in our country, but rather be quickly and humanely removed to a safe third country or their country of origin,” the Conservative prime minister said.

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

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


The plan received strong criticism from opposition parties, with Interior Minister Priti Patel’s colleague from the Labor Party, Yvette Cooper, saying it was costly, “impractical and unethical”.

Concerns were also raised about Rwanda’s human rights record, which the British government itself noted last year.

Johnson said Rwanda was “one of the safest countries in the world”, adding, however, that the risk of ending up 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 had given it “a deep connection to the situation of those seeking security and opportunities in a new country”. Rwanda has already received nearly 130,000 refugees from several countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Afghanistan and Libya, he added.

Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire said the country was hospitable but needed to resolve its internal problems first.

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


One minister said the plan was focused on single young men. “This is mainly about male economic migrants,” Wales’s foreign secretary Simon Hart told Sky News. “There’s another set of problems with women and children.”

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

Last year, more than 28,000 migrants and refugees crossed from mainland Europe to Britain. The arrival of migrants on the rickety boats has been a source of tension between France and Britain, especially after 27 migrants drowned when their dinghy emptied of air in November. Read more

“About 600 came across the canal yesterday. In just a few weeks, this could again reach a thousand a day,” Johnson said.

The new approach will get the Royal Navy to take over operational command from the Border Force in the canal, he said, and Greek-style accommodation centers will open in the UK.

The head of a refugee advocacy firm said the plan violated the principle of giving asylum seekers a fair trial on British soil.

“I think it’s quite extraordinary 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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Written by Paul Sandle, Kylie MacLellan and Michael Holden; Edited by Elaine Hardcastle, Catherine Evans, Tomasz Janowski and Gareth Jones

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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