Saturday, May 25, 2024

UK sending refugees to Rwanda cruel, costly: International Rescue Committee

Sending refugees to Rwanda, or anywhere else, will never be an effective solution, warns the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

• April 23, 2024
Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria
Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria [Photo Credit : UNHCR]

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has condemned the UK’s decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The condemnation followed the passage of the ‘Safety of Rwanda Bill‘.

Denisa Delić, the director of advocacy at the International Rescue Committee UK, said, “Irrespective of the passage of the Safety of Rwanda Bill, sending refugees to Rwanda is an ineffective, unnecessarily cruel and costly approach.”

Ms Delić added, “Rather than outsourcing its responsibilities under international law, we urge the government to abandon this misguided plan and instead focus on delivering a more humane and orderly immigration system at home. 

“This includes scaling up safe routes, such as resettlement and family reunion, and upholding the right to seek asylum.  

“Sending refugees to Rwanda, or anywhere else, will never be an effective solution.”

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill was tabled before the parliament alongside the UK-Rwanda Asylum Partnership Treaty after the UK’s Supreme Court found in 2023 that the proposed transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda would breach international and UK law, noting weaknesses in the Rwanda system for determining individual asylum claims, according to the UN.

However, the bill and the treaty do not, in practice, overcome the protection gaps identified by the Supreme Court. The UN noted that once enacted, they will restrict the UK courts from properly scrutinising removal decisions, leaving asylum seekers with limited room to appeal even if they face significant risks.

“The new legislation marks a further step away from the UK’s long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees.

Mr Grandi also mentioned that protecting refugees “requires all countries – not just those neighbouring crisis zones – to uphold their obligations” and noted that “this arrangement seeks to shift responsibility for refugee protection, undermining international cooperation and setting a worrying global precedent.”

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