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UK - Rwanda "One -Way" Plan Slammed: Analysts

FILE: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) speaks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame ahead of a bilateral meeting at the office of the President in Kigali, on June 23, 2022, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)

Several analysts assert there is an undercurrent of discrimination if not racism in a British policy seeking to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda.

A last-minute ruling by the European Court of Human Rights earlier this week botched a plan by the United Kingdom to forcefully airlift a small group of African and other refugees to the East African nation.

Despite a breather for these potential deportees, critics want to see a ruling that terminates the transfer policy in its entirety. They mentioned a positive response to Ukrainians seeking refuge in Europe and the U.S after Russia's invasion began in late February.

Collins Nweke, a Global Affairs Analyst told VOA from Brussels that ''Britain under Boris Johnson has simply murdered the Geneva Convention that grants certain rights to asylum seekers with this asylum transfer scheme.''

''Questions around the ethical, moral and financial prudence of the scheme remain unanswered," he added, along with "While the UK takes cognizance of the setback, it remains determined to push ahead with the scheme. The last hope of those opposed to it now hinges on a full trial of the legality of this UK government plan.''

A hearing is scheduled in the British courts by the end of July.

Catherine Stubberfield, a spokesperson for the UNHCR United Kingdom told VOA that the legality surrounding the transfer deal is flawed.

''UNHCR considers that the UK-Rwanda arrangement fails to meet the required standards relating to the legality and appropriateness of transfers of asylum-seekers, and does not comply with the United Kingdom’s obligations under International Law'', she said.

Stubberfield added ''Equally, however, financial support abroad for certain refugee crises cannot replace the responsibility of States and the obligation to receive asylum-seekers and protect refugees on their own territory – irrespective of race, nationality, and mode of arrival.''

The UNHCR UK said it has ''no direct party to any of the actions before the British Courts on London's intention to forcibly transfer asylum-seekers to Rwanda.''

The global refugee agency said as ''a friend of the court, requests for interim relief will now be followed by the substantive matter to be heard in July.''

The Government of Rwanda has refuted allegations that its partnership with London violates any international refugee law, stating that ''guarantees and assurances have been made by both parties to the agreement to ensure compatibility with UNHCR stated policies and guidance on transfer arrangements of (the) asylum seeker.''

Its government spokesperson, Yolande Makolo told VOA in an emailed statement that ''We understand the desperation and motivation that drives people to take these drastic measures (referring to illegal migration to the U.K), and can promise them a safe, secure home in Rwanda where they will have access to personal and professional development opportunities, and to public services including healthcare and education.''

Under the partnership, the U.K is making available some ''substantial investment'' to boost the East African nation's development. It includes an initial investment of £120 million as part of a new Economic Transformation and Integration Fund.

Makolo said the funds will support the creation of professional and personal development opportunities for migrants as well as Rwandans - including ''rebalancing the inequalities at the heart of the global migration crisis''.

''The UK will also be funding the processing and accommodation of those under this program, covering caseworkers, legal advice, translators, accommodation, food, healthcare, and a comprehensive integration package for those granted refugee statuses or a legal pathway to residence'', she said.

Already, Rwanda is home to more than 130,000 refugees from countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Afghanistan. Hundreds of African migrants evacuated from Libya have also been provided refuge according to the government.