- GS-2: Human Rights
- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries
U.K.-Rwanda asylum plan
Context: Since 2018, there has been a marked rise in the number of refugees and asylum seekers that undertake dangerous crossings between Calais in France and Dover in England. This has caused immigration crisis for conservative UK government.
- The number of such persons rose from 297 in 2018, to 28,431 in 2021. Most such migrants and asylum seekers hail from war-torn countries like Sudan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, or developing countries like Iran and Iraq.
What is the UK-Rwanda Deal signed in April 2022?
- Under this deal, Rwanda will commit to taking in asylum seekers who arrive in the U.K. on or after January 1, 2022, using “illegally facilitated and unlawful cross border migration.”
- Rwanda will function as the holding centre where asylum applicants will wait while the Rwandan government makes decisions about their asylum and resettlement petitions in Rwanda.
- The rationale for the deal, according to the U.K., is to combat “people smugglers”, who often charge exorbitant prices from vulnerable migrants to put them on boats from France to England that often lead to mass drownings.
- Rwanda will, on its part, accommodate anyone who is not a minor and does not have a criminal record.
- A migrant in the U.K. will be given five days’ notice to pursue an appeals process, failing which they will be given a one-way ticket to Rwanda and will become the responsibility of the Rwandan government.
- The deal is “uncapped”, i.e., there is no upper limit to how many migrants will be sent to Rwanda for the five years that the deal will remain in place.
- The U.K. will pay Rwanda £120 million as part of an “economic transformation and integration fund” and will also bear the operational costs for each migrant.
- Currently, the U.K. pays £4.7 million per day to accommodate approximately 25,000 asylum seekers. At the end of 2021, this amounted to £430 million annually with a projected increase of £100 million in 2022
What are the criticisms of the deal?
- The Rwanda Deal is predicted to reduce the costs of UK by outsourcing the hosting of such migrants to a third country. However, opposition argue that the burden of such costs will eventually fall on the British taxpayer.
- The deal doesn’t outline the economic right to work, access to healthcare or any financial support provided by the Rwandan government to relocated persons.
- It remains unclear if the Rwanda Deal will solve the problem of unlawful crossings. Evidence from similar experiences indicates that such policies do not fully combat “people smuggling”.
- People who are already vulnerable when they attempted dangerous sea-crossings will become more exposed and vulnerable under detention.
- Rwanda doesn’t have remarkable human rights record. Government critics have been silenced or sentenced to prison. Further, Rwanda’s similar offshoring deal with Israel was scrapped in 2019.
- The Rwanda Deal is an instrument that will certainly generate revenue for the Rwandan government. It also transfers a British issue onto a less developed nation in order to pander to the anti-immigrant sentiments in the U.K.
Connecting the dots: