Reaction to government plans for asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats to be flown for processing to Rwanda has flooded in this morning.
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”.
News of the scheme quickly drew derision from the Opposition as well as refugee advocates, including the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, who told the BBC it would not work.
“I really worry that this is not the right way to treat asylum seekers. We have an international duty under the Refugee Convention to look after asylum seekers well. They are big issues. They’ve got to tackled and I don’t think this is the way to do it,” he said.
“I remain to be convinced that it’s going to be deterrent in any way.”
Labour accused Boris Johnson of trying to distract from being fined for breaching coronavirus laws with “unworkable, unethical and extortionate” plans.
Human rights campaigners have described the Government’s plan as “barbaric”, “cowardly” “shockingly ill-conceived”.
“Cowardly” and “barbaric”
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”.
Here’s a pick of the reaction elsewhere: