Senegambian asylum seekers who recently arrived in the United Kingdom are to be flown to Rwanda in order to process their various application claims.
The controversial, contentious and rather drastic measure is among a pilot scheme introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government targeting single men who are claiming refuge and protection in the country.
The trial will target those asylum seekers and other migrants who crossed the English Channels via boats or vehicles from France.
Mr. B. N., a Gambian asylum seeker who received a warning via his solicitor that he may be “transferred” to the East African country told The Point that he is “not only devastated but also distressed.”
The former Gambian electrician, who earlier received a letter warning him not to stop reporting to the Immigration as required, said “going to Rwanda was the last thing I expected.”
Disclosing more details to this correspondent regarding the content of one of the letter includes a paragraph: “You are liable to detention, and by failing to report as required, you render yourself liable to prosecution under Section 24 (1) (e) of the Immigration Act 1971…This carries a six months prison sentence, and a fine of up to 5000 pounds or both…”
Even though many of the asylum seekers are willing to keep reporting regularly, they are scared to be arrested and sent to Rwanda.
Mr. H. T., from Southern Senegal, feared that he may be returned to his country by the Rwandan authorities. The artists said: “What I read about that country is horrible. We can’t express our views in Rwanda. It is not a democracy…I saw in the news that they are even locking in jail high profile and prominent citizens…”
However, Prime Minister Johnson, disputed the allegations made by human rights advocates as well as the opposition and others claiming that the scheme “would save countless lives and break the business model of traffickers.” He added that the “agreement with Rwanda would provide safe and legal routes for asylum.”
Similar voices have argued that many of the migrants are not “genuine asylum seekers but economic migrants abusing and exploiting the asylum system.”
Nonetheless, the leader of the opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer, reacting has noted: “Mr Johnson was trying to distract the country from the Partygate scandal with an unworkable, unethical, and extortionate scheme.”
The UN Refugee Agency called it a “breach of international law.”
Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Ester sermon described the move as “the opposite of the nature of God.”
Furthermore, dozens of right campaigners have jointly petitioned the government describing the plan as “inhumane”.
Already, over 160 charities protecting refugees and asylum seekers in a letter called the move “shamefully cruel”.
The scheme cost 120 million pounds.