Plan to send refugees to Rwanda would be breach of human rights, UN expert says

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, KenA group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Ken
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Ken
The UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to be processed is unacceptable and would be a breach of international human rights, the United Nations said  yesterday.

Gillian Triggs, an assistant secretary-general at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the agency “strongly condemns outsourcing the primary responsibility to consider the refugee status” as laid out in the scheme by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

It comes as one Yorkshire campaigner spoke of her sadness about refugees like those she has supported in the past and their desire to contribute to British society.

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Ministers plan to provide failed asylum seekers, including those crossing the Channel in small boats, with a one-way ticket to Rwanda, where they will have the right to apply to live in the African country.

Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Ms Triggs, the former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, said the policy was a “troubling development”, particularly in the light of countries taking in millions of Ukrainian refugees displaced by the conflict in eastern Europe.

She said: “It is very unusual. Very few states have tried this and the purpose is primarily deterrent – and it can be effective, I don’t think we’re denying that.

“But what we’re saying at the UN refugee agency is that there are much more legally effective ways of achieving the same outcome.”

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She said attempting to “shift responsibility” for asylum seekers arriving in Britain was “really unacceptable”.

Nicola David, chairman of Ripon City of Sanctuary, shared her thoughts about the announcement, which she called “depressing”.

She told The Yorkshire Post: “The thing that has upset me personally is my husband and I hosted a Syrian refugee who came here a few years ago.

“Now he would be sent to Rwanda.

“How can that be when he was such a lovely person and clever, so anxious to contribute, such a benefit to our society?”

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Alongside the Rwanda announcement was confirmation that the old RAF base at Linton on Ouse would be turned into an asylum processing centre for about 500 people.

The North Yorkshire village has previously been described as a ghost town since the military base ceased its operation but it has been revealed that local communities were not consulted before the changes were announced.

Ms David said she “personally wrote to every MP in North Yorkshire” about the idea of processing centres being brought in.

“We really just don’t want to see one in North Yorkshire because our county has been really good to refugees,” she said.

“It’s in no one’s interest.

“If you’re for refugees, if you’re against refugees, it’s not in your interest to have one of these centres on local territory.”