Protest outside Home Office against Rwanda asylum seeker policy
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A protest against the government’s new plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is being held outside the Home Office this evening.
The demonstration will take place at 6pm this evening at 2 Marsham Street in Westminster.
Home secretary Priti Patel is currently in the African nation to sign a deal for a £120million trial involving mostly single men arriving in Britain via boat crossings.
The cost is to be funded by British taxpayers.
According to the Times, Rwanda would take responsibility for the people who make the more than 4,000 mile journey, put them through an asylum process, and at the end of that process, if they are successful, they will have long-term accommodation in Rwanda.
Crossing the Channel in small boats is to be made a crime and those who are allowed to stay in the UK will have to live in strictly-controlled camp-like environments while their cases are considered, the paper said.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said the scheme was needed to "save countless lives" from human trafficking.
He is to announce new plans to tackle people-smuggling gangs and increase UK operations in the Channel.
In a speech in Kent, Mr Johnson argued action is needed to stop "vile people smugglers" turning the ocean into a "watery graveyard"
Last year, more than 28,000 people crossed from Europe to the UK, many in small dinghies.
Around 600 people made the crossing on Wednesday, and Mr Johnson said the figure could reach 1,000 a day within weeks.
"Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not,” Mr Johnson said.
Refugee organisations have criticised the plans as cruel and urged a rethink.
Zoe Gardner, policy & advocacy manager for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: “Most of us want to see people fleeing danger treated with dignity and compassion - this is crystal clear when we look at the public’s response to Ukraine and Afghanistan.
“But instead of welcoming people who need protection, this government seem committed to cruelty.
“Their inhumane and absurd Rwanda deal would see them shipping vulnerable people thousands of miles away, to one of the world’s poorest countries.
“It’s clear this would be a human rights disaster, as it has been in Israel where the same policy was tried.
“People sent to Rwanda were detained, abused, and eventually just escaped again through smuggling networks.
“It’s vital that we oppose these abhorrent and racist plans.
“That’s why we’re coming together tonight to take a stand against them, and show just how strong the movement for welcome and compassion is – we’d urge all who can to join us.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also took at the plan, saying it was “callous”, “cruel” and “chaotic”.
“In my view, this is not just an example the Government’s hostile environment,” he told LBC.
“This is the hostile environment on steroids.
“And it’s callous, it is cruel and it is chaotic.”
A number of Labour MPs have also criticised the plans.
David Lammy MP for Tottenham said “This shameful announcement is a blatant and ugly attempt by
Boris Johnson to distract from his criminality and lies.
“It’s also desperate, unworkable, morally bankrupt, extortionate and wrong.”
Rupa Huq MP for Ealing Central and Acton tweeted: “Sadly this is not April 1.
“Vile, surely forcing the unwilling into a one way journey is unworkable let alone immoral and probably illegal with a price tag of billions to the UK taxpayer.
“This government will stop at nothing to distract from the prime minister’s criminal activity.”
Diane Abbot MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said: “Shipping asylum seekers 5000 miles to Rwanda for “processing” is both cruel and bizarre.
“And at a cost of up to £100,000 per asylum seeker, it is a ridiculously expensive way to pander to racists.”
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.