Mobilization in the United Kingdom against sending asylum seekers to Rwanda

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A few hundred demonstrators are gathered this Monday, June 13 under the windows of the Home Office, in the district of Westminster. “Refugees are welcome here” (refugees are welcome here) and “Priti Patel, go to hell! » (Priti Patel – UK Home Secretary – go to hell!), chants the crowd. “We may have lost a battle today, but we will continue to fight, to persuade people that there are not too many refugees in this country and that the Johnson government’s migration policy is wrong,” assures the microphone Hector, activist of Barac UK, an anti-racist association. Mary, a young woman from the NGO Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, reads an email to the crowd from Home Office officials, who say she is “sorry to have been complicit in this unjust policy”.

Read also: In the UK, the anguish of a gay migrant facing the risk of deportation in Rwanda

The demonstrators want to express their disgust with the new British migration policy and their anger, on the eve of the scheduled departure of a first plane for Rwanda, with on board asylum seekers who have come to seek refuge in the United Kingdom. In April, Downing Street shocked migrant aid groups, the Labor Party and even some Conservative politicians, by announcing a partnership with Kigali to send asylum seekers to Rwanda on the sole grounds that they had arrived “illegally” in the UK, i.e. without a visa, most likely by crossing the Channel in a rubber boat.

“Break the economic model” of smugglers

This policy has been denounced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Church – who considers it “immoral” – and even, according to the Sunday newspapers, by Prince Charles – who would judge her “appalling”. That didn’t stop Priti Patel from trying to implement it. Sending to Rwanda, against their will, asylum seekers (Afghans, Eritreans or Iranians) who would nevertheless have every chance of obtaining refugee status in the United Kingdom, aims to discourage crossings of the Channel, thus avoiding drownings and “break the economic model” smugglers, insists the minister. She wants to prove to the right wing of the Conservatives that she is acting, when already 10,000 people have crossed the Channel since the start of 2022.

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