Boris Johnson announces that he has signed an agreement with Kigali to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Lydd Airport in Kent on April 14, 2022.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to tighten UK immigration policy, making a controversial move to say the least. The UK announced on Thursday 14 April that it plans to send asylum seekers who arrived illegally to Rwanda, in the hope of deterring clandestine Channel crossings, which are on the rise.

This project, which can be applied to all the people who have illegally entered the territory, wherever they come from (Iran, Syria, Eritrea, etc.), has provoked scandalous reactions. Human rights organizations have denounced his “inhumanity”. The opposition judged that the Prime Minister was trying to divert attention after the fine he received for a birthday party in full confinement. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for its part, expressed “his strong opposition”:

“People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded as commodities or transferred abroad for processing. »

A project of 144 million euros

Although Johnson had promised to control immigration, one of the key issues in the Brexit campaign, the number of illegal crossings of the English Channel tripled in 2021, a year marked in particular by the death of twenty-seven people in a sinking at end of November. . London regularly criticizes Paris for not doing enough to prevent crossings.

” From today (…), anyone who enters the UK illegally, as well as those who have arrived illegally since 1it is January can now be transferred to Rwanda”, announced the conservative leader in a speech in Kent (southeast England). Rwanda will be able to host “tens of thousands of people in the next few years”he added, describing the East African country as one of the “safest in the world, recognized worldwide for its record of welcoming and integrating migrants”.

Under the deal announced Thursday, London will initially fund the device to the tune of €144 million. The Rwandan government specified that it will propose the possibility “settle permanently in Rwanda [à ces personnes si elles] desire “.

Eager to regain popularity before local elections next month, Johnson and his administration have been seeking for months to strike deals with third countries to send illegal immigrants while they wait to process their cases.

Control of the English Channel entrusted to the Navy

“Our compassion may be infinite, but our ability to help people is not”said Mr. Johnson, who anticipates legal challenges against the device. “Those who try to jump the queue or abuse our system will not have an automatic route to settle in our country but will be promptly and humanely returned to a safe third country or their country of origin”he added.

Immigrants who arrive in the United Kingdom will no longer be housed in hotels, but in reception centers, such as those that exist in Greece, with a first center “next opening”Mr. Johnson announced.

As part of this plan, which complements a vast law on immigration currently in Parliament and already criticized by the United Nations Organization (UN), the Government entrusts this Thursday the control of illegal crossings of the Canal to the Navy, equipped with additional equipment. On the other hand, he gave up his plan to push back ships entering British waters, a measure denounced by the French side.

outraged NGOs

By sending asylum seekers more than 6,000 kilometers from the United Kingdom, London wants to discourage immigration candidates, who are increasingly numerous: 28,500 people made these dangerous journeys in 2021, compared to 8,466 in 2020, according to figures of the Ministry of the Interior.

Amnesty International criticized “a shockingly ill-conceived idea” whose “will cause suffering by wasting huge sums of public money”also highlighting the “terrible human rights record” from Rwanda.

Daniel Sohege, director of the human rights organization Stand For All, told Agence France-Presse that the government’s initiative was “inhumane, impractical and very expensive”recommending opening UK entry routes instead “safer” because the ones that exist are “very limited”.

Le Monde and AFP

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