Plans announced by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to send asylum seekers who arrive in the UK to Rwanda in Africa have been described as “chilling”, “cruel” and “immoral” by charities and politicians.
Boris Johnson said the £120m pilot scheme would “save countless lives”. He claimed it would break the business model of “vile people smugglers”.
The scheme would initially focus on single men arriving on boats or lorries in the UK. They would be sent on a 4,000-mile trip to Rwanda where they would be processed and, if granted asylum, be offered long-term accommodation in the African country.
The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who travelled to the Rwandan capital Kigali to sign the deal, said the “vast majority” of those arriving in the UK “illegally” would be considered for relocation to Rwanda.
More than 160 charities and campaign groups called on the UK government to abandon the plan, which they described as “shamefully cruel”, as well as unworkable and unlawful. The policy is expected to face legal challenge in the courts.
Other critics said the announcement was an attempt to distract from Boris Johnson’s political difficulties. It was unveiled shortly after he was found guilty of criminal conduct for breaking his own lockdown rules, with parties in Downing Street at the height of the Covid pandemic.
Reeta Chakrabarti presents BBC News at Ten reporting by Home Editor Mark Easton, Jessica Parker in Dunkirk and political correspondent Helen Catt at Westminster.
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