Boris Johnson has announced that 50 “illegal entrants to this country” have been told that they will be sent to the African country, where they will be able to apply for the right to settle.
The move comes despite criticism from more than 160 charities and campaigning groups, which have condemned the “shamefully cruel” plans. The Archbishop of Canterbury challenged the policy in his Easter sermon, indicating the “serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas”.
In its equality impact assessment of the policy, the Home Office has itself confirmed that LGBTQ+ refugees could be persecuted in Rwanda because of their sexual orientation. But the department is still planning to include gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the deportations.
The first legal challenge has already been launched to the plans by the law firm InstaLaw. It states that the proposals defy international law, and breach British data protection law. Meanwhile Boris Johnson has pledged robust opposition to the “leftie lawyers” taking on such cases.
The Home Office claims that the Rwanda “partnership” is fully compliant with international and national law.
The mythical “refugee crisis”
The Government claims that the UK has resettled more refugees that any other EU country. However, this figure only refers to a limited, specific UN resettlement scheme and only represents six per cent of the refugees offered protection in the EU. Other routes ie. applying for asylum once arrived in the EU, are far more common.
Peter William Walsh of the University of Oxford has calculated that the UK ranks sixth among EU countries in the number of refugees it accepts. But the fairest measure is the number of refugees accepted per 1000 of the resident population. According to this calculation, Sweden has accepted 12 refugees per 1000, Germany 10 per 1000 and the UK one per 1000, which means it ranks 20th among European countries for protecting refugees. Only Portugal welcomes fewer. [More or Less Radio 4 16.9.2021
The Government’s resettlement scheme only accepted 23,665 refugees between 2016-2020. Over the same period, Germany admitted over a million refugees.
Although 29,000 refugees, including lone children, have been able to join close family, these rights have now been curtailed since we are no longer subject to EU laws.