The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) strongly condemns the plan by the United Kingdom’s government to relocate asylum seekers from the U.K. to Rwanda. The government recently announced that the first deportation flight carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda is set for June 14, 2022. While this may be blocked by legal challenges, the implementation of this exportation plan and the U.K. government’s attempt to shirk its asylum obligations would set a concerning precedent for the international refugee protection system.
“The U.K.-Rwanda partnership and its clear intent to deter asylum seekers from reaching the U.K. is an abrogation of the country’s responsibilities to those fleeing persecution,” USCRI CEO and President Eskinder Negash said. “Offshoring asylum seekers to third countries violates the core principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention that the U.K. is a party to.”
As a deterrence method, there is no evidence that forcibly transferring asylum seekers in the U.K. to Rwanda will prevent others from making the journey across the English Channel. Instead, it may force refugees attempting to seek safety to pursue alternative and more dangerous routes. We believe that the policy of returning asylum seekers without due process to a third country is illegal, immoral, and a violation of refugees’ rights. We believe that all asylum seekers and refugees should be treated with fairness, dignity, and equal value, without prejudices.
While the U.K. and the international community have responded to the Ukrainian crisis by welcoming over 4.7 million Ukrainian refugees, asylum seekers from other countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Syria, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti are treated with hostility by countries that wish to deter their entry. This double standard is unconscionable and exposes the racism that is embedded in the international system’s refugee response.
USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.
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