Reception by the UK of Ukrainians and sending refugees to Rwanda was called discrimination

London's plans to transport asylum seekers to Africa draw criticism

The United Nations Refugee Agency condemned Boris Johnson's plan to move UK asylum seekers to the East African country of Rwanda.


UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Gillian Triggs condemns Boris Johnson's plan to send British asylum seekers to Rwanda as ” a symbolic gesture” that won't work in practice, writes The Guardian.

Speaking to The Guardian, Gillian Triggs, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner, said the proposed scheme is designed to accommodate only a few hundred people a year, making it extremely costly, as well as illegal and discriminatory.

As a reminder, that the British authorities have agreed with Rwanda that they will take illegal migrants to this country who are trying to find asylum in the territory of the United Kingdom. According to the agreement signed between London and Kigali, asylum seekers will wait for the decision of the results of their requests, while on Rwandan territory.

British ministers insist the scheme will save money in the 'long term', despite a reported cost of up to £30,000 per person.

But UK government insiders predict that the expected spate of legal battles could see it cost significantly more, with some predicting it could be two years before anyone is sent to Rwanda.

Home Office sources said they were prepared for legal scrutiny and a wave of immigration tribunals over the legality of attempts to smuggle asylum seekers who arrive in the UK from the European continent after traveling across the English Channel in small boats.

There are two stages of appeal for judicial review and three for those seeking to challenge the expulsion of refugees through an immigration tribunal, calling into question Boris Johnson's stated goal of deporting people to an African country within the next six weeks.

Home Secretary Priti Patel signed a “ministerial directive” authorizing the implementation of this policy, despite the objections of the permanent secretary of her department regarding the costs.

A Home Office source said the ministerial order was issued because the long-term savings from the new policy “cannot be quantified with certainty,” but Home Office Chief Patel doesn't want the “lack of accurate modeling” held the decision.

Downing Street says the government expects thousands of asylum seekers to be resettled in Africa within the first few years of the scheme.

Gillian Triggs accuses the UK of “trying to shift its burden to a developing country” and warns that the agreement signed by Patel “will not comply with the UK's international legal obligations”, adding: “All indications are that it will not work.”

Triggs continues: “We want to end the vulnerability of people in the way of human trafficking and of course we want people not to drown, but we strongly disagree with persecuting those who need protection.

There should be more legal routes to the UK instead.” She suggested that the government's proposals seemed to appeal to anti-migrant sentiment in the UK.

“We're a politically neutral, humanitarian organization – it's really not for me to comment on politics,” says Triggs. “But we are in an environment where populist governments will appeal to their right-wing anti-migrant sentiment, and that will likely be part of it.”

Two former Conservative international development secretaries on Friday expressed their disagreement with this politics and questioned whether the government could successfully send any of the migrants to Rwanda.

So, Rory Stewart told The Guardian that there is “a very strong possibility that this is just a pie in the sky” and that the whole story is set up to distract people from the fact that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fined by police for participating in a party. on Downing Street, which violated covid restrictions.

Stewart, who was minister under Theresa May, said that when he was in government, it was difficult enough to take the citizens of some countries back to their places of birth. “It's a completely extraordinary thing and I think the legal issues will mean they won't get to the planes,” he predicted.

Stuart, who visited Rwanda earlier this month, said it was “one of the poorest countries on Earth” with “particularly extreme living conditions for people.”

Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell also said it was impractical, immoral and incredibly expensive. “The costs are mind-boggling,” he told the BBC. “You're going to send people 6,000 miles to central Africa (…) it would actually be cheaper to put every asylum seeker at the Ritz in London.”

Gillian Triggs also warns that the UK is taking a discriminatory approach to refugees, offering an unlimited scheme for asylum seekers from Ukraine and a “draconian” system for refugees from other countries.

“At the political level, we see levels of discrimination,” says Triggs. “We are deeply concerned that the processes appear to be discriminatory. One of the fundamental principles of international law is non-discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or nationality.”

Triggs hopes that popular British support for hosting Ukrainian refugees will encourage the government to rethink its proposals: “We have seen an outpouring of sympathy and generosity from the outside the British people themselves. As such, we consider this announcement inconsistent with British values.

We hope public outcry will help mitigate the negative aspects of this proposal with Rwanda.”

Boris Johnson was also sent a letter from 150 British refugee organizations warning that the plan would “cause great suffering” and ” will lead to more, not less, hazardous travel, leaving more people at risk of being trafficked.”

Home Secretary Tom Pursglove defended the “Rwandan initiative,” saying that it 'crush' the smugglers' business model and lower the cost of living for all those who come to the UK illegally, which he says amount to £5 million a day.

Pursglove added: “But in the long run if we get the situation under control, it should help us save money. We spend £5 million a day putting people who cross the border into hotels. This is unsustainable and unacceptable and we need to get it under control.”


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