A regional spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday expressed strong opposition to the United Kingdom’s attempt to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda, saying the move violates international law and evades asylum responsibilities.
The Rwanda asylum plan, announced by the UK government in April, is supposed to give asylum seekers who cross the English Channel a one-way ticket to Rwanda to claim asylum there instead.
However, the first flight due to take the asylum seekers to Rwanda was canceled on Tuesday after a last-minute intervention from the European Court of Human Rights led to fresh challenges in the UK courts.
“We strongly oppose the arrangement or the deal to transfer asylum seekers from the UK. We consider this as the UK effectively evading their fundamental obligations and responsibility of sharing to asylum seekers. And we consider this arrangement to put asylum seekers and refugees in increased risks to take more dangerous onward journeys in their search for asylum,” said Faith Kasina, spokesperson for the UNHCR East and Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region.
UK not backing down
While criticizing the UK of evading its international obligations to asylum seekers, Kasina urged them to halt its plans to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda.
“We consider again this being the UK failing to comply with international law, evading its fundamental obligations to asylum seekers, people seeking asylum and safety. And we just want to reiterate that access to asylum should not be and is not contingent on the mode they arrive, in the countries that they seek asylum, nor is it contingent on the nationality of the person of people seeking asylum. And therefore, we want to continue to advocate the United Kingdom government to consider more humane offering and providing protection to those that need it the most, rather than going ahead with this deal,” she said.