Rwandan ‘Cash for Refugees’

Last week, I signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to cancel plans over the coming weeks to deport over 100 Asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda.

The proposed deportations are a threat both to the individuals concerned, and to the principles of the Refugee Convention.

The full text of the letter:

Re: Refugee deportation flight to Rwanda scheduled 14 June

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to urge you to cancel the planned deportation of at least one hundred people who have sought sanctuary in the UK to Rwanda in the coming weeks, including flights scheduled imminently for 14 June. We write on behalf of our constituents, many of whom have expressed their opposition to the deportation agreement with the Rwandan Government, and in defence of the international principles of refugee protection, which the UK has a moral and legal duty to uphold.

We share the concerns of expert groups, the UN Refugee Agency, and people across the four nations that the proposed deportations represent both a serious risk to the individuals concerned, and a wider threat to the safeguarding of the Refugee Convention. If the United Kingdom is seen to shirk responsibility for assessing the claims of asylum seekers presenting themselves on our shores in a tawdry ‘cash for refugees’ deal with an economically poorer country, there is the potential to fatally undermine refugee protection on an international scale. Refugees must be offered protection on the basis of need, not on their method of escape from danger.

Many, if not most, of the people crossing the Channel on small boats are refugees seeking protection, to which they are legally entitled. They enter the UK through such dangerous means only because we have failed to offer adequate safe modes of travel. All too often, our asylum system is practically inaccessible, even to people who are escaping real danger.

Several of the people who have been served with notice of their removal to Rwanda on June 14th are survivors of torture, trafficking, and other human rights violations. Some have family members settled in the UK with whom they are desperate to be reunited. Some may not have been able to avail themselves of adequate legal advice and representation. Others may be children.

There is scant evidence that the UK’s deportation deal with the Rwandan government will be effective in preventing people from attempting to reach safety in the UK in the future. There is, however, very clear evidence of the significant harm it will cause to the individuals faced with imminent expulsion thousands of miles from their support networks.

It is not too late to take control of the issue of unregulated migration into the UK through means that respect international human rights law, and the basic principles of dignity and humanity. We implore you to withdraw from the deportation deal with the Rwandan government, and cancel the flights scheduled for 14th June.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Lucas MP, Ed Davey MP, Hannah Bardell MP, Deidre Brock MP, Alan Brown MP, Amy Callaghan MP, Wendy Chamberlain MP, Joanna Cherry QC MP, Daisy Cooper MP, Dave Doogan MP, Allan Dorans MP, Tim Farron MP, Stephen Farry MP, Marion Fellows MP, Patrick Grady MP, Sarah Green MP, Wera Hobhouse MP, Chris Law MP, Clive Lewis MP, Rachael Maskell MP, Layla Moran MP, Sarah Olney MP, Stuart McDonald MP, Stewart McDonald MP, Anne McLaughlin MP, Gavin Newlands MP, Brendan O’Hara MP, Tommy Sheppard MP, Paul Sweeney MSP, Alison Thewliss MP, Richard Thomson MP, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, Nadia Whittome MP, Munira Wilson MP