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UK MPs warn Rwanda makes ‘good headlines’ but does not deter Channel crossings

July 18, 2022 at 4:36 pm

Hundreds of demonstrators gather during a protest against the UK’s plan to send migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda and the court’s decision on the matter in front of the Ministry of Interior in London, United Kingdom on June 13, 2022 [Raşid Necati Aslım/Anadolu Agency]

A group of UK MPs have said that there is “no clear evidence” that the government’s Rwanda project will result in less Channel crossings.

“Threats of being put on a flight to Rwanda with no chance of return to the UK have so far failed to stop people making the extremely dangerous journey across the Channel,” according to the Commons Home Affairs Committee report.

“Instead, we have a search for radical new policies that might make good headlines but do little to stem the flow of people prepared to put their lives at risk to reach the UK by any means necessary,” said committee chairwoman MP Diana Johnson.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel has pushed the controversial scheme under which migrants crossing the English Channel will be deported to Rwanda where their asylum claims would be processed offshore.

The scheme has been met with a wave of criticism, including from the UN who have urged the UK to halt its plans to transfer asylum seekers.

The UNHCR has said that there is a risk Rwanda may send asylum seekers back home because they don’t have the capacity to  process them, whilst human rights groups have raised Kigali’s own reputation for human rights abuses.

READ: UK government to introduce bill for local courts to supersede ECHR rulings on Rwanda plan

In June the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the flights to Rwanda could not take off until after a High Court judicial review next month brought by one of the deportees.

Britain’s High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court refused to block the flights taking refugees from the UK to Rwanda.

The British government later prepared to introduce a new bill to empower courts to make the final decision and allow them to supersede the ECHR.

The committee said that over 14,000 people have made the journey across the English Channel already this year and that it is predicted some 60,000 will have made the journey by the end of the year.

The 59-page report stated, “Their motivations, and their understanding of what will happen when they arrive in the UK, are also poorly understood and insufficient to inform good policy.”

“The failure to ensure safe routes are available to all those who would have a rightful asylum claim leaves people little choice but to use drastic measures to get here,” said MP Diana Johnson.

The Labour politician’s words echo what charities have campaigned for for months: the provision of safe and legal routes for people seeking asylum to mitigate how at risk they are of being exploited and abused.