The UK has announced a plan that will transfer thousands of African migrants to Rwanda instead of allowing them to seek asylum in the UK.
According to the plan, any refugees arriving in the UK in boats will be screened and their personal information sent to Rwandan officials. They would then be transported 3,700 miles away to Rwanda.
The Rwandan government would then handle their asylum processes, leaving asylum seekers with no other choice but to settle in Rwanda. Those who aren’t granted asylum by the Rwandan government would be deported back to their country of origin.
Under international agreements, refugees who flee from prosecution or civil war have a right to claim asylum in the UK, if on British soil. But the proposed plan would transport migrants to Rwanda even before they step foot in Britain.
Despite the US government’s warnings of the dangers at both the Rwanda-Burundi border and the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border, British officials move forward with their plans.
Asylum seekers are also worried about the violence and dangers that could await them in the war-torn country of Rwanda.
“No one knows Africa like we Africans do,” an Eritrean man told The Guardian. “Africa is Africa – there is no freedom there. Rwanda is like Eritrea, it does not keep human beings safe. Here in Europe, you are free.”
Human rights groups have slammed the UK, calling the move ‘inhumane.’ Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action spoke with Al Jazeera about what this law means for black and brown migrants.
“When governments try to deter people seeking asylum, those people do not disappear into thin air. They are forced to take longer, more dangerous journeys to try and rebuild their lives, she said. “By slamming the door on people seeking asylum, this government is shirking their responsibilities and adding to the larger crisis.”
African migrants from Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, and Sudan would be impacted the most, since the easiest means of transportation to the UK is by boat. According to the BBC, 28,431 migrants crossed the English Channel seeking asylum in 2021. Experts believe the new plan would drop asylum applications drastically.
It’s almost impossible not to notice the stark difference in the treatment of Ukrainian refugees as compared to Black and brown people seeking asylum. The UK completely opened its arms to Ukrainian refugees. More than 100,000 British people offered to house Ukrainians who fled and tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees are expected to find a new home in the UK. But African asylum seekers hoping to seek a better life get shipped to a war-torn country they know nothing about.
The contrast is alarming and suggests the world only cares about you if you are escaping white persecution. For the Black and brown people of the world, you might just have to fend for yourself.