Government plans to bar those arriving in the UK in small boats across the English Channel from seeking asylum are “deeply worrying”, according to the NGO Refugee Council.
Enver Solomon, CEO of one of the UK’s leading charities working with refugees and asylum seekers, said Tuesday’s proposal from Home Secretary Suella Braverman is “out of step with the majority of the public, which supports the protection of refugees”.
“Most of those who come to the UK on small boats are fleeing the unimaginable horror of war, conflict and persecution,” Solomon said in an email to Anadolu Agency.
He said: ‘They should not be criminalized for this, but given a fair hearing on British soil. Prime Ministers since Winston Churchill have committed themselves to the Refugee Convention – of which we were one of the founding signatories – and we should strengthen our commitment to it, not seek to break it.
Solomon argued that none of the Home Secretary’s proposals “will do anything to solve the problems of our asylum system because it fundamentally fails to solve the reasons why people are forced to come here in the first place”.
“We need constructive proposals, from creating safe routes for refugees to clearing the backlog of asylum claims and working with international partners to properly address the root causes of forced migration.”
Backlash to the announcement
At the Conservative Party’s Autumn Conference in Birmingham, Britain’s new Home Secretary says under new plans migrants crossing the English Channel from France to the UK will face a blanket ban to seek asylum.
In his first major speech in his new post, Braverman unveiled the plan amid 35,000 such crossings having taken place this year alone, according to official figures.
Braverman’s announcement that the government’s plan for Rwanda, under which asylum seekers would be sent to the African country while their claims are processed, will be implemented also faced backlash.
Detention Action, a group fighting the Rwandan plan in court, said Braverman was “pouring oil on the fire created by his predecessor, Priti Patel”.
“This government’s refusal to provide people with safe, stable and efficient routes to seek safety in the UK has exposed even more men, women and children to the risk of exploitation and a dangerous journey across the English Channel,” the band said in a statement.
Detention Action argued that “by focusing on punishment rather than treatment, Patel and Braverman have left more than 90,000 people awaiting a decision on their asylum claims, living in limbo and unable to begin to rebuild their lives.
“They have kept many people in detention, unjustly and indefinitely.”
“End the cruelty of indefinite detention”
The group said Braverman was committed to Patel and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “refugee removal agreement with Rwanda, which is currently being challenged in the High Court”.
Detention Action said: ‘Instead of adding to this mess, Braverman should create safe routes for refugees to reach the UK, including claiming asylum here, processing people’s asylum claims, so that can begin to rebuild their lives in our communities and end the cruelty of indefinite detention.
The new interior minister argued on Tuesday that the current law “just doesn’t work” because it is “abused” by smugglers, last-minute claims and specialist lawyers.
“This cannot go on,” she added.
She said: ‘Conference, I am committing to you today to seek to introduce legislation to make it clear that the only route to the UK is through a safe and legal route.
“So if you deliberately enter the UK illegally from a safe country, you should be promptly returned to your home country or relocated to Rwanda. This is where your asylum application will be considered,” Braverman added.
The Rwanda deal was introduced by Patel, but the first flights taking asylum seekers to Rwanda were founded after rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and separate legal challenges in UK courts.
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