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Austria hails controversial ‘Rwanda model’ as trailblazer in combating irregular migration to Europe

May 21, 2024 at 4:13 pm

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Vienna, Austria on May 21, 2024 [Aşkın Kıyağan – Anadolu Agency]

Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, on Tuesday commended British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s migration policy, describing the “Rwanda model” as a trailblazer in combating irregular migration to Europe, Anadolu Agency reports.

Nehammer, speaking at a joint press conference in Vienna with Sunak, praised the Rwanda model, which was recently approved by the British parliament and states that those who enter the UK without valid documents will be sent to Rwanda, according to Austrian public broadcaster, ORF.

The model is also a way to tackle organised crime and put an end to the deaths of irregular migrants during their perilous journey across the Mediterranean, he said.

According to a joint statement issued by both leaders following their meeting, “The leaders agreed that working with designated safe third countries are part of the solution for best protecting Europe from irregular migratory pressures and preventing people from making illegal, dangerous journeys – such as the Rwanda style model.”

“The leaders are acutely aware of dangers of the efforts other actors will take in instrumentalising migrants to destabilise Europe and agreed more needed to be done to secure our borders and strengthen our security,” it added.

Against this backdrop, Sunak and Nehammer agree that the answers lie in deeper partnerships with others and that increasing cooperation with countries involved in all stages of the migrant journey was critical to addressing this growing pan-European challenge, the statement said.

On 30 April, the UK sent its first asylum seeker to Rwanda as part of a pioneering voluntary scheme.

After becoming law in late April, the long-debated legislation seeking to send asylum seekers to Rwanda paves the way for the deportation of thousands of asylum seekers in a matter of weeks.

In January last year, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said that tackling small boat crossings by irregular migrants across the English Channel was among five priorities of his government as more than 45,000 migrants arrived in the UK that way in 2022.

READ: UK defends controversial Rwanda Bill despite UN objection