The British authorities recently informed a group of 50 asylum seekers that they will be the first to be deported to Rwanda. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this in an interview with the Daily Mail on Saturday. A few weeks ago, London announced its plans for this. The 50 migrants now have 14 days to object.
According to Johnson, the London government is already preparing for a tough legal battle with opponents of the new British asylum policy. That policy consists of sending people suspected of having entered the country illegally to Rwanda. Anyone who is recognized as a refugee can stay in Rwanda. The authoritarian-run country, under severe repression, receives money from London in exchange for the shelter.
The announcement was immediately criticized by 160 NGOs, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the opposition, and even leading figures from Johnson’s own conservative party, such as former Prime Minister Theresa May. They had questions about the ethical side of the plans, but also about legality, cost and efficiency.
ALSO READ. Denmark is also considering transferring asylum seekers to Rwanda
Johnson does not let that criticism get to his heart: his ministers are ready for a legal fight, and changing the law is an option. According to the British Prime Minister, the new policy is “smarter” than sending boats on the Channel back to France or Belgium. “I didn’t want to give such orders, you risk that people die and I don’t do that,” said Johnson, who thinks many countries will also start adopting this approach.
Israel previously concluded a similar agreement with Rwanda, which had now ended, but the vast majority of refugees sent to the African country within that framework quickly disappeared under the radar and fled the country. Many subsequently appeared in Europe. Denmark also has plans, but they are not yet very concrete.