There are many unanswered questions about the government’s new policy of compelled expulsion to Rwanda of uninvited asylum claimants. Here are just a few.
1) What is the estimated cost per expelled refugee? None of the briefings give a clue. In its absence, how can the policy be assessed for its value for money, compared with the status quo?
2) What is the UK’s responsibility - moral, legal - if bad things (illness, accident, attack) happen to the expelled refugees after arrival in Rwanda?
This would be a concern even if Rwanda did not have a recent history of trampling on civil liberties and basic human rights (see this report from the US state department).
3) Since the UK and Rwanda say only adults will be shipped to Rwanda, and the Home Office says families will not be broken up, how can the Home Secretary be confident she has not created a perverse incentive to malign smugglers, to carry whole families across the dangerous Channel crossing in precarious small boats, putting the lives of more children at risk?
4) Here is the UK Foreign Office’s assessment of the welfare and safety of the LGBT+ community in Rwanda: “Homosexuality is not illegal in Rwanda but remains frowned on by many. LGBT individuals can experience discrimination and abuse, including from local authorities. There are no specific anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals.”
Given the UK government’s official view that LGBT people are at risk in Rwanda, will LGBT asylum seekers be expelled to Rwanda or will they be exempt?
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5) How is sub-contracting to another country a profound humanitarian problem consistent with the UK’s proud history of fair play and tolerance?
And I have a last question, which is whether the mood of the UK’s voters in relation to desperate people coming to these shores has been changed by the tragedy in Ukraine - and whether the prime minister’s and home secretary’s idea of expelling asylum seekers to Rwanda will be less popular than they think.
I guess we’ll have an answer of sorts from May’s local elections.