The Rwanda scheme is an innovative solution to a broken asylum system
4 min read
Be under no illusion: the global asylum system is broken. Around the world, we see it collapsing under the strain of numerous, real humanitarian crises, with around 80 million people reported to be displaced.
Significantly adding to that strain is the fact that the broken system is being exploited by callous people-smugglers for their own financial gain, as evidenced for us in the United Kingdom by those arriving on the south coast, having travelled across the English Channel in barely seaworthy small boats.
As a nation we have proudly offered asylum and a safe haven to those fleeing tyranny from all corners of the globe over the decades; indeed, since the current Home Secretary took office alone we have welcomed 100,000 Hong Kongers, 20,000 Afghans and 70,000 Ukrainians (so far) to our shores through safe and legal routes.
But that concept of asylum has in recent years been grotesquely distorted by the criminals who are pushing people already in safe countries like France to make dangerous journeys to improve their economic prospects in return for thousands of pounds in cash.
This has had devastating consequences for the countless men, women and children who have lost their lives, or lost loved ones, making these perilous journeys.
Moreover, the existence of these parallel, illegal routes is also deeply unfair, as it advantages those with the means to pay people-smugglers over vulnerable people who cannot afford to do so.
The British people have been clear that this is unsustainable; and as a government we have made clear that we will tolerate this state of affairs no longer, hence our delivery of a much-needed overhaul of an asylum system that has been left untouched by successive administrations for two decades.
A global crisis requires global solutions and that is why we are proud of the ground-breaking Migration and Economic Development Partnership that we launched with Rwanda earlier this month.
Under this partnership, anyone who arrives in the UK via an illegal journey, such as by small boat, should not be surprised if they find their asylum claim being processed in Rwanda. If the claim is accepted, they will then be supported to build a new life there – in a country with a fast-growing economy and which is recognised globally for its record on welcoming and integrating migrants.
This world-leading partnership is exactly the sort of innovative, international solution we need to address this massive global challenge and is one that I anticipate setting a new international standard.
Crucially, it is a solution that breaks the business model of the people-smugglers who for too long have profiteered by touting entry to the UK by the back door.
Readers should nonetheless be aware that such ground-breaking reforms as these cannot be implemented overnight with the click of a finger.
I anticipate a challenging time over the summer months as the people-smugglers seek to continue peddling their life-threatening boat crossings while we get the new agreement up and running.
There are those who have blindly declared opposition to our plan – including some parliamentarians, commentators, lawyers and an alphabet soup of charities and campaign groups – who are now threatening to stall our progress with spurious legal challenges in the courts.
Despite professing to care about the lives of those who are being exploited by criminals, they have all failed to offer a single credible alternative to our plan.
We are committed to taking action and will overcome the hurdles one by one as they appear – in the same way that we do when political opponents try to block us deporting rapists and murderers with no right to remain in our country.
Everyone should reflect deeply on the imperative for action to tackle this evil trade and why it requires a new international order to do so.
Our new partnership with Rwanda will save lives.
Allowing the people-smugglers to remain in business should no longer be an option for any humanitarian nation or compassionate person.
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