Britain’s plan to send refugees to Rwanda blasted as ‘cruel, inhumane’
Britain has come under harsh criticism over its plan to send illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers thousands of miles away to the African nation of Rwanda.
On Thursday, Britain announced a deal with Rwanda to send asylum-seekers to the East African country, claiming the measure would stop people-smugglers sending desperate migrants on treacherous journeys across the English Channel.
"From today... anyone entering the UK illegally as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1 may now be relocated to Rwanda," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a speech near Dover in southeastern England.
"Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead," Johnson said.
He called the East African nation with a sketchy human rights record "one of the safest countries in the world, globally recognized for its record of welcoming and integrating migrants."
Rights groups and refugee organisations swiftly blasted what they called a “cruel”, “inhumane” and “neo-colonial” plan, and questioned both its cost to the British taxpayers and effect on migration.
“It’s truly shocking and inhumane,” said Steve Valdez-Symonds, the refugee and migrant rights programme director at Amnesty International UK.
Refugee Action's Tim Naor Hilton said the government was "offshoring its responsibilities onto Europe's former colonies instead of doing our fair share to help some of the most vulnerable people on the planet".
Nadia Hardman, Refugee and Migrant Rights Researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the plan would "complicate" the process for Syrians seeking refuge in the UK.
"Syrian refugees are desperate to reach a place of safety," Hardman told AFP.
In 2011, over 28,000 people arrived in the UK having crossed the Channel from France in small boats.