The Guardian Monday reported that the UK Home Office will offer asylum seekers two options: a return flight to the conflict zone the refugee escaped from or removal to Rwanda. In a document issued to a group of UK asylum seekers and obtained by the Guardian, the Home Office said refugees have the option to leave the UK voluntarily, or otherwise face removal to Rwanda.
Refugees selected for removal by the Home Office have had their asylum claims deemed inadmissible with no right of appeal. Among the refugees currently detained for removal are Syrians, Sudanese, Afghans, Eritreans, Iranians and Iraqis.
In April, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new UK-Rwanda migration and economic development partnership. As part of the partnership, anyone who illegally enters the UK can now be relocated to Rwanda. The UK provided £120 million in financial aid to assist Rwanda in the smooth resettlement of refugees.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called the plan a violation of international law and cited concerns over increased risk of alternative refugee routes and amplified pressure on frontline states. The UK-Rwanda partnership has received more backlash; Home Office workers’ union PCS and several other refugee and human rights charities have launched legal challenges against the partnership. This week, a group of UK asylum seekers located in Brook House detention center launched a hunger strike.
The Home Office doubled-down on the partnership, however, with a spokesperson stating in part: “This marks a critical step towards operationalising the policy and we remain fully committed to working with Rwanda to offer safety to those seeking asylum and ultimately save lives.”