THE Government has launched a scheme that will see some people seeking asylum (safety) in the UK turned around and sent to Rwanda, a country in East Africa over 4,000 miles (6,400km) away.
An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their own country because of political reasons (like war), and wants to enter another country in search of safety.
The Government’s new Asylum Partnership Arrangement means that some asylum seekers arriving in the UK may be sent to Rwanda to ask for asylum – and then might be allowed to stay there. The Government says that the new £120m plan will focus on men arriving on boats or lorries and travelling alone.
Last week, Home Secretary Priti Patel travelled to Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, to sign the deal. Ms Patel said that the new scheme is a “global first” and will “change the way we collectively [together] tackle illegal migration [people moving to another country without the legal right to do so]”.
Although the UK Government says the new scheme obeys international law, many people have criticised the plan, with several refugee charities going so far as to call it “cruel”, pointing to Rwanda’s poor human- rights record.
Although Rwanda has made a lot of progress in recent years, especially when it comes to equality for women, there are still lots of concerns about human rights in the country. Many critics are concerned that some asylum seekers sent to Rwanda under this new scheme may not find the safe life they are desperately looking for.
As First News went to press, more than 160 charities and campaign groups had called on the Government to scrap the scheme entirely.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said that the new plans could be against international law. UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, said: “People fleeing war, conflict and persecution [being treated badly because of things such as their race, religion or political beliefs] deserve compassion. They should not be transferred abroad.”
Human Rights Watch said: “At a time when the people of the UK have opened their hearts and homes to Ukrainians, the Government is choosing to act with cruelty and rip up their obligations [responsibilities] to others fleeing war and persecution.”
But what does the British public think? A YouGov poll revealed that 35% of adults were in favour of the new plans, while 42% were against them and 23% said they were unsure.
We want to hear your thoughts. Answer our poll, and comment below.