Rwanda Act ‘performatively cruel’, says BYM

'The Home Office plans to send the first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda in July.'

More than 115,000 asylum seekers will be trapped in ‘permanent limbo’ by the end of the year, due to the recently-passed Rwanda Act, the Refugee Council said.

The plan will cause the already-struggling UK asylum system to go into ‘meltdown’, said Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council. The bill passed last week when the House of Lords said it had to accept the primacy of the elected house, after months of parliamentary ‘ping pong’ between the two chambers.

Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) joined 250 other signatories in writing to the prime minister to express their outrage. ‘This is a shameful and performatively cruel law that will risk people’s lives and betray who we are as a society,’ the signatories said, including Liberty and Refugee Action.

BYM described the act as ‘unprecedented’ in UK law, with the government overriding the Supreme Court, which ruled that Rwanda is not a safe country for refugees.

‘It also removes the UK’s obligation in domestic law to abide by treaties that the UK remains bound to internationally, including the European Convention on Human Rights,’ BYM said on the Quakers in Britain website.

‘The Safety of Rwanda Act is the central plank of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan to reduce the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. But the government accepts virtually no asylum routes as legal, so refugees fall back on the dangerous Channel crossings,’ it added. BYM highlighted that five migrants, including a child, died in the Channel just hours after the bill was passed.

The Home Office plans to send the first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda in July. Last Thursday, the prime minister’s spokesperson said an initial cohort of people who will be put on flights had been identified and the first flight booked.

Paul Parker, recording clerk for BYM, said: ‘Quakers have long advocated for new, peaceful, safer routes of migration including the introduction of humanitarian visas and improved rules for family reunion.

‘It is heart-breaking that that future is more remote now than ever.’

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