The UNHCR ‘strongly condemns’ policy of sending migrants who arrive in Britain unlawfully more than 4,000 to Africa.
London, United Kingdom | The UK’s proposal to send migrants who arrive in Britain unlawfully to Rwanda is “unacceptable” and a breach of international law, the UN’s refugee agency said.
The Government announced this week it plans 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.
The UNHCR said attempting to “shift responsibility” for claims of refugee status was “unacceptable”.
Boris Johnson has said he believes the scheme complies with international law.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Priti Patel issued a “ministerial direction” to launch the policy amid concerns from Home Office civil servants
Civil servants could not precisely quantify the benefits of the policy and uncertainty about the costs meant the home secretary had to take personal responsibility for it by issuing the direction.
A source close to Ms Patel said that “deterring illegal entry would create significant savings” and the fact that the savings could not be quantified precisely should not prevent action from being taken.
Ministerial directions have been used 46 times since the 2010 election, with two in the Home Office since 1990, according to the Institute for Government think tank.
The only other time the formal order was used by the Home Office was in 2019 by the former home secretary Sajid Javid, to bring in the Windrush Compensation Scheme before legislation was in place.
Under the £120m pilot scheme, people deemed to have entered the UK unlawfully since 1 January could be flown to Rwanda, where they will be allowed to apply for the right to settle in the east African country.
The government said the first flights could begin within weeks, initially focusing on single men who crossed the Channel in small boats or lorries.
More than 160 charities and campaign groups have urged the government to scrap the plan, while opposition parties and some Conservatives have also criticised the policy.
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