UK’s new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer has announced that he would terminate a controversial plan to deport thousands of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda.

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UK’s new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer has announced that he would terminate a controversial plan to deport thousands of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda.
“The Rwanda scheme was dead and buried before it started. It’s never been a deterrent,” he said

in his inaugural press conference as prime minister.
Starmer said that the Rwanda policy would be abandoned, declaring it dead and buried.
“I’m not prepared to continue with gimmicks that don’t act as a deterrent,” Starmer told reporters after a cabinet meeting, describing the plan as a “problem that we are inheriting”.
This statement marks his first significant policy declaration following his Labour Party’s overwhelming victory in the Thursday election.
The former Conservative government introduced this plan in April 2022, intending to relocate illegal migrants who arrived in Britain.
The Conservative government announced that any asylum seeker entering the UK “illegally” after January 1, 2022, from a safe country like France, could be sent to Rwanda.
Their asylum claims would be processed in Rwanda instead of the UK. If their claims were successful, they could be granted refugee status and permitted to stay in the east-central African country.
The Conservative government claimed that this measure would halt the influx of asylum seekers arriving in small boats. However, the plan was never implemented due to prolonged legal battles.
In April 2024, the UK Parliament approved the controversial law designating Rwanda as a safe third country, effectively bypassing a prior UK Supreme Court ruling that deemed the scheme unlawful on human rights grounds. Authorities began detaining asylum seekers in May under this new legislation.
The policy had been championed by then-Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who had pledged to halt the arrival of migrants and asylum seekers via small boats from mainland Europe. Sunak faced significant criticism from human rights activists and opponents, who condemned the plan as inhumane.
Critics argued that deporting people to Rwanda, rather than processing their asylum claims within the UK, was unacceptable, citing concerns about Rwanda’s own human rights record and the potential danger asylum seekers faced if sent back to their countries of origin.
Despite the backlash, Sunak remained resolute, asserting in April, “No ifs, no buts. These flights are going to Rwanda.”
In recent years, tens of thousands of asylum seekers, many escaping wars and poverty in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, have arrived in Britain by crossing the English Channel on small boats, a perilous journey orchestrated by people-smuggling networks.
During his news conference on Saturday, Starmer remarked that the Rwanda scheme was widely anticipated to fail.
He explained that it would have only affected about 1% of asylum seekers and would not have served as an effective deterrent.
“Everyone has worked out, particularly the gangs that run this, that the chance of ever going to Rwanda was so slim – less than 1 percent,” he told reporters.
“The chances were of not going, and not being processed, and staying here therefore in paid-for accommodation for a very, very long time.”
Last month, June 10, 2024, UNHCR told British judges that it might possess new evidence showing asylum seekers faced danger in Rwanda this year.
UNHCR told the High Court in London that Rwanda’s asylum system remains insufficient for accommodating migrants from the UK.
In response, the Rwandan government dismissed UNHCR allegations, and accused the UN agency of lying.
“UNHCR is lying. The organisation seems intent on presenting fabricated allegations to U.K courts about Rwanda’s treatment of asylum seekers, while still partnering with us to bring African migrants from Libya to safety in Rwanda through the Emergency Transit Mechanism,” said the Rwandan government in a statement.
“Our understanding is that one of the cases that the UNCHR has referred to relates to a man who was denied asylum in the Seychelles. Following this judgement, the UNHCR in South Africa unilaterally decided he should be given asylum in Rwanda. The Government of Rwanda was neither consulted prior to this decision, nor have we had any contact from the UNHCR about this case since.”
This, Kigali said, is just one in a series of wholly “unserious” allegations that have been levelled against the East African country by the UNHCR.

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