UK MPs question Rwanda deportation plan: report
London, Jul 18 (EFE).- A group of United Kingdom members of parliament has questioned whether the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda will deter migrants seeking to cross the English Channel irregularly.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has justified the Rwanda plan on the grounds that the prospect of being sent to the African country would disrupt people-smuggling and small-boat Channel crossings by acting as a deterrent.
“The government’s stated purpose of the Migration and Economic Development Program with Rwanda is to deter people from seeking to arrive in the UK by irregular means. It is not clear as yet whether it will have that effect,” the cross-party Home Affairs Committee said in a report on Monday, asking the government to present evidence for assuming this.
“The Home Office must also set out what steps it is taking to ensure that the mental and physical wellbeing of those who are relocated to Rwanda is secured for the long term,” it said.
In this sense, the committee says that “no magical single solution is possible” to deal with irregular immigration across the English Channel with precarious boats and that “detailed, evidence-driven, properly costed and fully tested policy initiatives” are needed.
In 2021, more than 28,500 people arrived by small boat and this is expected to increase to around 60,000 by the end of 2022, according to the report.
Faced with this increase, in mid-April the government of Boris Johnson announced an agreement with Rwanda in which it promised to give £120 million ($143 million) for the development of the African country that, in return, would take in asylum seekers from the United Kingdom.
Despite the “visibility” that boat arrivals have on British shores – including tragedies such as the 27 people who drowned in the channel on Nov. 24 – the report recalls that there are many migrants who enter clandestinely through other routes, such as ferries, planes and trains.
The recent increase in people opting for precarious boat crossings is attributed to the reinforcement of security by the French and British authorities in the north of France, which has displaced the flow that used to opt for vehicles.
“Any policy that closes down small boat immigration by inadvertently creating something even more dangerous would be a pyrrhic victory,” the lawmakers warn.
The report also recommends more cooperation with France and the rest of the European Union, despite of the obstacles of Brexit.
“The provision of safe and legal routes to the UK should be a key part of the government’s strategy to counter the criminal trade, and this has not yet received the attention it deserves,” it said.
“The government risks undermining its own ambitions and the UK’s international standing if it cannot demonstrate that proposed policies such as pushbacks, now abandoned, and offshore processing, such as the Rwanda partnership now being legally challenged, are compatible with international law and conventions.” EFE