First Minister blasts UK Government’s ‘cruel and inhumane’ Rwanda asylum plans
Mark Drakeford has called the UK Government’s announcement of a £120 million scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to be processed “a cynical distraction from the Prime Minister’s law breaking”.
The Government will announce full details of the multimillion-pound plans for asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats to be flown for processing to Rwanda later today.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to sign a deal with the East African nation during a visit on Thursday, with people seeking sanctuary in the UK to be sent more than 4,000 miles.
Some of those who make the perilous crossing of the Channel, as well as by other means deemed “illegal” by the Government, would be sent to Rwanda while their claims are assessed “offshore”.
An initial £120 million is expected to be given to the Rwandan government under a trial scheme, which is being criticised by refugee charities as a “cruel and nasty decision” that will fail to address the issue and “lead to more human suffering and chaos”.
In a Tweet, Wales’ First Minister said: “The UK Government’s plans to send asylum seekers and refugees to Rwanda is cruel and inhumane.
“This is not the way to treat people seeking safety and sanctuary.
“This is nothing more than a cynical distraction from the Prime Minister’s law breaking.”
The Tories to outsource their international legal duty to refugees to another continent
This government have the humanitarian instincts of hyenas
— Liz Saville Roberts AS/MP 🏴 (@LSRPlaid) April 14, 2022
Liz Saville Roberts, the leader of Plaid Cymru’s Westminster group, also took aim at the government’s proposals in a tweet..
“This government have the humanitarian instincts of hyenas,” She said
“Tossing red meat to rabid supporters No 10 desperate for a figleaf for PM’s shredded reputation.”
Simon Hart, the Secretary of State for Wales defended the plan during a round of media interviews this morning, claiming the arrangement has the potential to be a “really humane step forward”.
Mr Hart, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire also said the plan has the potential to ‘break up and deter criminal gangs’ involved in transporting vulnerable people to the UK.
He claimed transporting migrants to Rwanda would “reduce the horrible level of exploitation and improve the chances for people who have crossed half the world at huge emotional and personal and financial expense”.
He told Sky News: “We have a very good relationship with Rwanda: It’s an up-and-coming economy, it has got a very good record with migrants in this particular issue.
“And it’s an arrangement which I think suits both countries very well and provides the best opportunities for economic migrants, for those who have been in the forefront of this particular appalling problem for so long now.
“And I think that this arrangement is a really… it has the potential to be a really good step forward and a really humane step forward.”
When pressed on the fact the president of Rwanda has been accused of human rights abuses on more than one occasion, Mr Hart said: “That is true, but that doesn’t alter the fact that their reputation as far as migrants are concerned, and their economic progress, is phenomenal.”
Human rights campaigners have described the Government’s plan as “barbaric”, “cowardly” “shockingly ill-conceived”.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, said that the African nation had a “dismal human rights record”.
In a statement to the PA news agency, Mr Valdez-Symonds said: “Sending people to another country – let alone one with such a dismal human rights record – for asylum ‘processing’ is the very height of irresponsibility and shows how far removed from humanity and reality the Government now is on asylum issues.
“The Government is already wrecking our asylum system at huge cost to the taxpayer while causing terrible anxiety to the people stuck in the backlogs it has created.”
“But this shockingly ill-conceived idea will go far further in inflicting suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money.”
Another refugee advocacy group issued a withering assessment of the scheme, calling it a “grubby cash-for-people plan” that was “cowardly” and “barbaric”.
The chief executive of Refugee Action Tim Naor Hilton accused the Government of “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”.
He added that the UK should have learnt from “Australia’s horrific experiment” of sending refugees “thousands of miles away” to camps where they experienced “rampant abuse” as well as “rape, murder and suicide”.
“This grubby cash-for-people plan would be a cowardly, barbaric and inhumane way to treat people fleeing persecution and war,” Mr Naor Hilton said.
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