“Shirking our responsibility to vulnerable people, many of whom are fleeing the fallout of British foreign policy sums up the punitive “little Englander” attitude that has driven the Home Office from scandal to scandal.”
By Imran Hussain MP
The announcement of the Rwanda plan confirmed the very worst fears of migrant’s rights campaigners who set alarm bells ringing of the Home Office’s offshore detention designs when the Nationality and Borders Bill was first proposed last year.
Now vulnerable people forced into making the treacherous journey to reach Britain will be deported on arrival. Even if an asylum claim is granted, they will be offered asylum 4,000 miles away in Rwanda regardless of any family connection they have to this country.
The princely sum of £30,000 per person and a £120 million fee paid to the Rwandan administration ensures the policies status as the Home Office’s most expensive exercise in racism yet.
Years of depicting desperate people seeking sanctuary on our shores as “invaders”, “criminals” and frankly sub-humans, along with claims that Britain is the number one destination have been forced down the throat of the public by press and politicians as a tool to manufacture consent for a policy that brings an immeasurably deep shame upon our country.
Shirking our responsibility to vulnerable people, many of whom are fleeing the fallout of British foreign policy sums up the punitive “little Englander” attitude that has driven the Home Office from scandal to scandal as the architects of the Hostile Environment and the executors of the Windrush Scandal.
Britain already lags behind comparable European countries when it comes to housing refugees, with Germany’s 2019 refugee population sitting at 1.1 million, France’s at 407,000 and Britain at just a fraction of its neighbours with 133,000.
It’s beyond ironic that the purported patriots among us have painted an image of our country so feeble that despite being the 5th richest country in the world we have to outsource our duty to vulnerable people onto the 116th richest.
Rwanda’s own chequered history of upholding human rights, as a country Britain has accepted refugees from, further highlights the moral bankruptcy of the plan. Just last year the Foreign Office condemned the Rwandan government for failing to “conduct transparent, credible and independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations including deaths in custody and torture”.
The notorious Australian model of offshore detention, which sees refugees sent to camps on the islands of Nauru and Manus, offers a glimpse into the future . Amnesty International’s 2016 report on the camps detailed how the systemic abuse inflicted upon asylum seekers forced many to self-harm and suicide with the conditions forced upon them so grotesquely inhumane that they fit the criteria for torture under international law.
Only Johnson’s Tories constitute the necessary formula of rank stupidity and flagrant racism to take inspiration from such a cocktail of inhumanity.
If there was an iota of truth behind Johnson’s claim that the policies intention was to defeat the criminal gangs coercing refugees, then the government would be talking about opening safe and viable routes for asylum seekers.
They have done the opposite.
The Tories have methodically scrapped existing resettlement schemes such as Dublin 3, the Dubs scheme, the Syrian scheme and botched the Afghan scheme – inevitably forcing people into the arms of people traffickers.
The Home Office grows bolder with each passing encroachment upon human rights and must be directly confronted if we are to start pushing back against the villainization of refugees.
There is evidence that this pushback has already begun and is gathering momentum.
In Edinburgh, Home Office agents were sent home with their tail between their legs after an emphatic community response to an attempted deportation. And the government was forced into a humiliating U-Turn on its proposed “pushback policy” that would have seen small boats carrying refugees turned away in the channel.
The old adage that you beat racism with solidarity rings truer now than ever.