world : Refugees sent to Rwanda from remote UK island speak to BBC

world : Refugees sent to Rwanda from remote UK island speak to BBC
world : Refugees sent to Rwanda from remote UK island speak to BBC

Wednesday 12 June 2024 11:47 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Leigh Day lawyer Tom Short said his two clients in Rwanda had been left by the UK government with no certainty and in a “situation of perennial purgatory”. Court documents, lodged in London, argue the migrants’ treatment in Rwanda, and on Diego Garcia, “amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to international law”.

Rwandan official Ms Picard said there was “no similarity” between the group of Tamils and those who may move from the UK - who would, she said, be “processed and integrated into our society”.

Ms Picard said her country was “always open” to having conversations about settling the Diego Garcia group permanently, and that if that happened, they would be “provided with all the protections and guarantees and the integration needs they would have”.

But “right now they are being treated as medical evacuees who need medical treatment”, she said.

No money was given to Rwanda to take in and house the migrants from Diego Garcia, said Ms Picard, and the “only link” with the UK-Rwanda asylum deal was that the two countries were “very strong partners”.

The Foreign Office has declined BBC requests to provide details of the Diego Garcia arrangement. The deal was agreed using unsigned diplomatic notes written in the third person - known as “notes verbales” - sent between the British Embassy in Kigali and the Rwandan government. The Foreign Office told us that releasing the information under a Freedom of Information request would “prejudice the relations” between the two countries.

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour would comment on the fate of the Diego Garcia migrants in Rwanda or what they would seek to do with them if they win the election.

Both parties have pledged to bring net migration down, but Labour has said it would scrap the Conservatives’ plan to fly some asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda.

Mr Sunak has made delivering the Rwanda plan a key priority of his premiership, arguing it will deter people from crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Labour has described the scheme - which has already cost taxpayers £310m - as a “con from start to finish”.

In a statement, the Liberal Democrats described the cases of Tamils in Rwanda as “deeply concerning” and said they needed to be “properly investigated”.

The Conservatives’ policy to send asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, they added, was ”immoral, unworkable and incredibly expensive [for] taxpayers”.

The Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer has described the Rwanda plan as “punitive” and “inhumane” - adding that the way to stop people risking their lives in small boats was to provide “safe and legal routes” for them to apply for asylum from overseas.

In an interview with Today on BBC Radio 4 earlier this week, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage appeared to ditch the party's official draft policy - that it would use British Overseas Territories to rapidly process claims of asylum seekers arriving through safe countries. “I don't think it's terribly practical,” he said - adding that people who come to the UK illegally should be deported.

The UN refugee agency has called on the UK to “secure solutions” for the group in Rwanda, and about 60 asylum seekers still on Diego Garcia, in line with its “international obligations”.

While they wait, the migrants continue to dream of a future elsewhere.

“We wonder if we should be thankful to Britain for saving our lives when we arrived at Diego Garcia, or whether we should get angry with them for putting our lives in limbo,” Mayur says.

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