UK to send undocumented inmigrants crossing the English Channel to Rwanda

Boris Johnson’s government has signed an agreement to send “tens of thousands” of migrants who illegally enter the UK across the English Channel to Rwanda. Those without papers who land on the British coast in small clandestine boats will be flown “on a one-way ticket” to internment camps more than 6,000 kilometers away, in the central African country that the UK itself called for a UN investigation last year into alleged ill-treatment, disappearances, killings and torture. Johnson nevertheless described it as “one of the safest countries in the world”.

The new tactic to get rid of the undocumented is hugely controversial and will come up against strong practical and legal barriers as Johnson himself acknowledged. “It won’t happen overnight.” Opposition parties and organizations such as Amnesty International, or Refugee Action have repudiated a “chilling”, “cruel”, “inhumane”, “impracticable” and “extremely costly” scheme, without it will do nothing to stem the flow of people seeking refuge.

“If they go down that road, if they cross the Channel illegally in those boats they risk ending up not in the UK, but in Rwanda,” the prime minister declared. The new provision would primarily affect men traveling alone. In theory they would remain in the African country until their asylum claim in the UK is settled or until they are returned to their country of origin. Johnson went on Thursday to Kent, the region where the boats of illegals arrive, to present a plan devised, “for humanitarian reasons” and “made possible by the freedoms of Brexit.” The plan, negotiated for nine months with the authorities in Kigali by the Minister of Home Affairs, Priti Patel, who went to the Rwandan capital to sign the agreement, will have an initial cost of 120 million pounds (144 million euros). Patel explained that Rwanda has received 130,000 refugees from multiple countries and has shown “respect for those people by allowing them to restart their lives.”

In addition to the transfers to Rwanda, the government is proposing to impose prison sentences, up to life imprisonment, on migrant smugglers. The Royal Navy has moved to reinforce controls in the Channel and 60 million will be allocated to improve the equipment of personnel guarding the coast.

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