UK-Rwanda:The voices of asylum seekers overshadowed in the political discourse

The UK’s recently passed bill in the House of Commons, regarding the deportation of certain asylum seekers to Rwanda, has ignited a spectrum of reactions, particularly among those directly affected by it. The policy, intended as a measure to deter illegal crossings and manage immigration, has been met with significant dismay and concern by asylum seekers, raising questions about its fairness and humanity.

Asylum seekers, many of whom have fled dire circumstances in their home countries, view the policy as a distressing development. An Egyptian asylum seeker under the threat of removal articulated the sentiment of being treated as mere numbers in a political debate, devoid of consideration for their well-being or desire for stability. This echoes the broader sentiment among asylum seekers, who feel neglected in the decision-making process and reduced to pawns in a larger political game.

A Middle Eastern asylum seeker highlighted the psychological impact of the policy, perceiving it as a form of torture that undermines the very reasons for seeking refuge in the UK. The prospect of being sent to Rwanda, a country with a different cultural and linguistic environment, appears as a denial of the safety and freedom they sought.

Furthermore, the policy raises concerns about its practicality and potential human rights implications. Critics, including human rights activists and legal experts, argue that Rwanda, with its own complex political and human rights issues, may not be a suitable or safe place for asylum seekers. The country’s long-standing president and allegations of human rights abuses, including suppression of free speech and political dissent, cast doubt on its ability to provide a secure haven for those fleeing persecution.

The UK government, however, defends the policy as a lawful and necessary step to control illegal immigration and deter dangerous channel crossings. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Office Minister Chris Philp emphasize the sovereignty of Parliament in making and amending laws, asserting that the policy is a result of considered debate and aligns with international obligations.

This policy has also sparked a significant rift within the Conservative Party, with some members expressing opposition and concern over its effectiveness and ethical implications. The House of Lords, known for its role in revising legislation, is expected to challenge the bill, with figures like Lord Carlile critiquing it as a dangerous overstep into authoritarianism.

The Rwanda plan, therefore, stands at a complex intersection of immigration policy, human rights considerations, and political debate. Its progression and implementation continue to be a subject of intense scrutiny and division, both within the UK’s political landscape and among the international community. As it moves towards potential enactment, the voices of asylum seekers and their advocates remain a crucial element in the ongoing discussion about the balance between national immigration policy and the rights and well-being of individuals seeking refuge.