In 2022, both candidates for the role of UK Prime Minister pledged to sustain the Rwanda policy – A policy to deport refugees to Rwanda after they arrive in the UK. I appeal to them both to rescind that policy.

Is the UK’s Policy to send refugees to Rwanda a bad thing?

Yes it is. It contravenes the UN Refugee Convention to which Britain is a signatory. The politics behind this legislation appears to sustain a hostile environment as a deterrence to refugees, to frighten them, to discourage them from coming here. There is no evidence to suggest any policy of deterrence is working. This policy is shameful. I am appealing to the next Prime Minister of the UK to rescind this policy.

Many UK citizens have taken to the streets, spoken out, and launched legal challenges to the government’s determination to send refugees arriving in the UK to Rwanda. We must stand up to this injustice and continue to show commitment to challenge hostility, and to build cultures of welcome, hospitality and sanctuary for all.

No one wants to be a refugee. No one wants to leave their home. Danger to life drives people to abandon their homes and to seek sanctuary elsewhere.

What is Rwanda already doing for Refugees?

The beautiful country of Rwanda is already taking in refugees from neighbouring countries. This is remarkable feat for a nation recovering from the wounds of genocide. We should not require or pay Rwanda to receive people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are now more than 100 million refugees in the world. Ninety percent of the world’s refugees are from countries in or close to conflict. Ninety percent of them are either trapped in their own countries or take shelter in neighbouring countries. For example, Iranians and Kurds in to Turkey, Afghanis to Pakistan, Syrians to Lebanon, Somalis to Uganda, Congolese to Rwanda, Ukrainians to Poland. A very small number of the world’s refugees come to Europe, with Germany hosting the biggest number. Britain is host to one percent of the world’s refugees. We can be more generous.

Wars make refugees. This is a clear lesson of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is further predicted that extreme weather will add to refugee numbers in the next 20 to thirty years. The number of people without food to eat is at a record high. The upward trend of refugee numbers will continue unless there is an international resolve to tackle the root causes of human displacement such as violent conflict, war, poverty and climate change.

The approach to the refugees from Ukraine has demonstrated the fact that it is possible to provide safe, humanitarian routes for refugees coming to the UK. Our refugee policies must treat all refugees with care and compassion irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, skin colour and mode of travel.  

We desperately need a coordinated international response to the rising number of refugees. Any attempt by any country to go solo on managing borders is bound to fail.

Inderjit Bhogal

28 July 2022

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