UK’s Rwanda asylum plans ‘all wrong’ — UN refugee chief

2. UK Rwanda
Demonstrators hold placards as they protest against Britain’s Rwanda asylum plan outside the High Court in London on June 13, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

GENEVA, Switzerland — The UN refugee chief on Monday slammed an imminent UK plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as “all wrong”, a day before the first planeload of claimants is due to depart.اضافة اعلان

“We believe that this is all wrong ... for so many reasons,” Filippo Grandi told reporters.

A planeload of 31 claimants is due to depart Tuesday as part of an agreement reached with Kigali that London says is aimed at deterring illegal migrants from undertaking perilous crossings of the English Channel by boat.

An emergency appeal to halt the plan — brought by refugee charities and a trade union which called it immoral, dangerous, and counter-productive — was defeated by the Court of Appeal in London on Monday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have remained unbowed by the criticism, insisting the policy is needed to stop a flood of all-too-often deadly migrant crossings of the channel from France.

More than 10,000 migrants have made the journey so far this year, a huge increase on prior years.

The one-way flights to Rwanda are intended to deter others from entering Britain by illegal routes, and offer those who do try a new life there instead.

Grandi said he also wanted to end dangerous journeys, but reiterated the UNHCR’s position that exporting asylum seekers was not the way to address the issue.

“The UK says ... we do this to save people from dangerous journeys. Let me doubt that a little bit,” he said.

“Saving people from dangerous journeys is great, is absolutely great. But is that the right way to do it?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”

The UN agency has raised concerns about a lack of legal redress in Rwanda and potential discrimination against gay claimants.

Britain with its advanced structures and large resources should not be “exporting its responsibility to another country,” Grandi said.

He said Rwanda had been “quite good to refugees”, having taken in and dealt efficiently with tens of thousands from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

But he stressed that its structures and resources were vastly different from those found in Britain, and that Rwanda was not equipped to adopt the UK system for refugee status determination.

That “is a completely different ballgame,” he said.

The UN refugee chief also warned that the UK move provided a poor example that other countries might follow, with disastrous effect.

He pointed out that there are many countries in Africa and elsewhere that are far poorer than Britain hosting hundreds of thousands and even millions of refugees.

“What am I going to tell them if they say a rich country like the UK, they are sending them abroad, I will do the same. I close my border, ... and they can go to another country?”

“The precedent that this creates is catastrophic.”

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