United Kingdom – Boris Johnson has once again stirred controversy. The British Prime Minister announced on Thursday 14 April his desire to send asylum seekers who have arrived illegally to Rwanda and assign the task of monitoring the canal to the Royal Navy, in the hope of deterring the increasing secret crossings.
While Boris Johnson has promised to control immigration, a central theme of the Brexit campaign, the number of illegal crossings of the canal tripled in 2021, a year that saw 27 migrants die in a shipwreck at the end of November. London regularly criticizes Paris for not doing enough to stop it.
In a speech in Kent (south-east England), the Conservative Party leader declared: “As of today (…) anyone entering the UK illegally as well as those who have arrived illegally since 1 January can now be transferred to Rwanda.”
He added that Rwanda would be able to accommodate “tens of thousands of people in the coming years”, describing the East African country as one of the “safest countries in the world, globally recognized for its assessment of the reception and integration of migrants”.
This bill, which is likely to apply to all foreigners who entered illegally, wherever they come from (Iran, Syria, Eritrea, etc.), sparked scandalous reactions. The opposition ruled that the prime minister was trying to divert attention after being fined for a birthday party in full confinement.
Daniel Sohaig, director of human rights organization Stand For All, told AFP the government’s move had been “inhumane, impractical and very costly”, and instead recommended opening “safer” entry routes into the UK because those that do exist are “extremely limited”. “. .
Amnesty International criticized a “wrongly shameful idea” that “will cause suffering with the waste of massive amounts of public money”, also referring to Rwanda’s “dismal human rights record”.
Seeking to regain popularity ahead of local elections next month, Boris Johnson and his government have for months sought deals with third countries to send migrants while they wait for processing. Such a measure has already been implemented by Australia with remote islands in the Pacific Ocean, a policy that has been much criticized.
Under the deal announced Thursday, London will initially fund the device at 120 million pounds (144 million euros). The Rwandan government made it clear that it would offer the possibility of “permanent settlement in Rwanda if it so desired”.
Johnson announces the opening of reception centers like the one in Greece
“Our sympathy may be endless, but our ability to help people is not,” said Boris Johnson, who expects legal action against the device. “We cannot ask the UK shareholder to sign a blank check to pay for everyone who wants to come and live here.”
“Those who try to bypass the queue or abuse our system will not have an automatic route to settling in our country but will be transferred quickly and humanely to a safe third country or their country of origin,” he added.
Boris Johnson has announced that migrants arriving in the UK will not be accommodated in hotels but in reception centers such as those in Greece, with the first to open soon.
As part of this plan, which complements a broad immigration law currently in Parliament, the government on Thursday pledged to monitor the canal’s illegal crossings into the navy, with additional equipment.
28,500 people crossed the channel in 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a speech in the south: “From today the Royal Navy will take over operational command of the Channel from the Border Force, (…) with the aim that no boat reaches the UK undetected.” England, near the English coast.
For this purpose, 50 million pounds (60 million euros) of new equipment and human resources will be launched, with helicopters, aircraft and drones. “It will send a clear message to those driving the boats: If you risk the lives of others in the canal, you risk spending your life in prison,” he said. On the other hand, he abandoned his plan to push the boats into British waters, a measure denounced by the French side.
By sending asylum seekers more than 6,000 kilometers from the UK, the government wants to discourage candidates from leaving for the UK, whose number is growing: 28,500 people made the perilous crossings in 2021, compared to 8,466 in 2020 and 299 in 2018, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this law, if adopted, would contradict the Geneva Refugee Convention, which the United Kingdom is a signatory to.
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