UK Makes an Inhuman Plan Against Refugees


Photo source: The Times

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has planned to send asylum seekers off to Rwanda in June 2022. Many see this as a quick fix, ‘offshored strategy’ to instill otherness, sending a clear message that Tory led UK government is not interested to help distressed people in the name of humanity.

Under this plan, many refugees who enter the UK from 'safe' countries will be sent to Rwanda for processing. Only if their claim succeeds will they be allowed into the UK. Even if this scheme is mainly catered to single men, the move will create a lack of cohesion, as they won’t be able to raise children, form relationships, and obtain other important rights. It has inflated their hardship. This is, infact, a contravention of international law. But, UK prime minister believes the other way round.

It was actually back in December 2020, when the Independent reported that Chris Philp, the then UK parliamentary under secretary of state and minister for immigration compliance and justice, had ‘refused to rule out sending asylum seekers to a remote island or disused oil platforms, or creating a ‘giant wave machine’ to repel migrant-bearing boats in the English Channel.

The move is expected to cost the British taxpayer £120 million, overlooking the fact that UK is already facing a cost of living crises. The intended plan of sending migrants away will infact increase the tax burden.

Even before, to stop migrants entering UK, the Tories had paid France to smash smugglers and bought armoured jet skies turning back ‘illegal dinghies’. Therefore, the global refugee system is crumbling, and the smugness, or even xenophobia, including of the British politicians is making it happen.

In UK’s press, many newspapers had supported the idea, too. The Telegraph called it a ‘landmark immigration deal’. The Daily Express suggested that it was a ‘radical blueprint’, to stop thousands of people making perilous crossing in small boats. The Mail’s headline was provocative. It said: ‘Rwanda plan to smash the Channel gangs.’ The Mail’s columnists also welcomed the idea, suggesting that it could break the business model of human traffickers. 

The move had a withering criticism as well. Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee director at Amnesty International UK, said the British government’s 'shockingly ill-conceived idea will go far further in inflicting suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money.' The chief executive of the UK-based Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, called it 'dangerous, cruel and inhumane.' The British Red Cross expressed concern that 'the financial and human cost will be considerable'.

It was in April 2022, when Priti Patel called it as world’s first immigration partnership, believing that it will set standards for managing migration, and help fix the broken asylum system. Hence, it seems that the ocean has achieved a graveyard status because of the criminalisation of migration pressed by the world’s enterprising powers including the UK.

What also is ironic is that the UK has proposed a ‘business model’ to a country, which it blamed for alleged killings, disappearances and torture. 

According to Sally Hayden’s article in CNN, part of the UK prime minister's misleading rhetoric is this idea of refugees and asylum-seekers ‘jumping the queue.’ But, there is effectively no queue. In 2021, the British Refugee Council said just 1,587 refugees, the vast majority of them Syrians, were resettled to the UK out of more than 26 million refugees globally. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, eighty-six per cent of refugees are currently in developing countries. So, there is no pressure on developed nations to handle the pressure of migrants as of yet. This perception of migrant overload is mainly concocted by many sections of the right-wing Western media. 

The open partnership by the UK with Rwanda has been clearly inspired by contemporary Australian offshore detention activities on the island nation of Nauru as well as Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, which have served as recipes for migrant suicide, self-harm, and general suffering. The move also may be motivated by the United States which has also offered plenty of asylum evicting ideas, as in the case of the Trump administration’s so-called 'safe third country agreement' with Guatemala, which enabled the US to deport asylum seekers to a country that was itself not at all safe and a significant source of refugees in the first place. The Tory-led British government may also be inspired by the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) programme, re-imposed by Joe Biden, which basically consists of forcing vulnerable migrants to risk their lives waiting in Mexico, another prominent source of refugees, for their asylum claims to be processed in the US. Between 2014 and 2017, thousands of asylum-seekers were also sent to Rwanda from Israel: They later fled or were tricked into crossing into neighbouring Uganda, where they were not granted legal rights. It shows the UK, for these anti-asylum activities, is just another new country on the block. Now, like the UK, Denmark is also vying to send migrants to Rwanda. 


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