Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary, has responded to critics of the government’s plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda, claiming that they have failed to provide answers.
She and Rwanda’s foreign minister wrote in the New York Times that they had presented an innovative solution to the “deadly trade” of people smuggling.
After her top civil servant questioned whether the scheme was cost-effective, Ms Patel issued a ministerial instruction, which meant she took responsibility for the policy.
Under the weight of humanitarian crises and human trafficking, Patel and Rwanda’s foreign minister, Vincent Biruta, warned the global refugee system was “collapsing.”
According to them, the plan to transport some undocumented asylum seekers to Rwanda, where they can apply to settle, will allow those escaping persecution to find shelter.
And they added that the UK’s investment in Rwanda – an initial £120m – would help to address the lack of opportunities which drive economic migration.
“We are taking bold and innovative steps and it’s surprising that those institutions that criticise the plans fail to offer their own solutions.
“Allowing this suffering to continue is no longer an option for any humanitarian nation,” they wrote
It was also revealed that some Rwandan refugees will be relocated to the United Kingdom under the terms of a bilateral agreement.
According to a UK government source, the UK will assist Rwanda in resettling “a fraction of the most vulnerable refugees.”
Initially, the plan will focus on single men arriving in the UK by small boats or lorries. Those who are moved to Rwanda will be housed while their asylum requests are processed. They will be able to stay in the east African country if they succeed.
Energy minister Greg Hands told Times Radio sending migrants to Rwanda would be a “significant deterrent” to people attempting to cross the Channel in small boats. He said the government was “confident” that the policy would work.
Welby became the latest figure to criticise the plan on Easter Sunday, accusing the government of “subcontracting our responsibilities” and claiming that it cannot “withstand God’s judgement.”
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, joined him in calling the policy “depressing and disturbing,” and saying, “We can do better than this.”
News Central earlier reported that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said there were “serious ethical questions” about the plan.
He was joined by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who said the policy was “depressing and distressing”, adding: “We can do better than this.”
The plan has also been criticised by opposition parties and some Conservative MPs, while over 160 charities and campaign organisations have branded it “shamefully brutal” and urged the prime minister and Ms Patel to withdraw it.
The program was branded as “unworkable” by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, while the Liberal Democrats said the government was “slamming the door” in the face of migrants, and Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party called it “absolutely terrifying.”
Rwanda’s own human rights record was one of their worries, with the UK raising claims of arbitrary executions, disappearances, and torture in the east African country at the United Nations last year.
Priti Sushil Patel is a British politician who has served as Home Secretary since 2019. A member of the Conservative Party, she was Secretary of State for International Development from 2016 to 2017. Patel has been the Member of Parliament for Witham since 2010.
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