Constructively engaging on the migrant menace — Vanguard Editorial

Posted by News Express | 22 April 2022 | 491 times

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•Illegal migrants in a troubled boat on the Mediterranean


MUCH sentiment is being generated over the United Kingdom’s refugee pact with Rwanda. When this scheme takes off in a couple of months, it will involve Rwanda taking up the asylum of UK-bound migrants – “for a fee”.

Illegal migrants (single men) who arrived through the English Channel as from January 2022 will be packed off with one-way tickets to Rwanda where they will be allowed to apply to settle as refugees with some basic human rights.

The UK has set aside 120 million pounds sterling ($157m or N65bn) for economic development of Rwanda in return. The UK government says the plan which will cost it 30,000 pounds per migrant will save money in the long run. It will also drastically cut down the number of migrants dying while trying to reach its shores by sea.

The deal has triggered a barrage of criticisms. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, says the deal will be “illegal and discriminatory”.

The UK is a signatory to two UN protocols on the protection of refugees – the UN Refugees Convention and European Convention on Human Rights. Rwanda is seen as a country which has little regard for the rights of its own people. It is believed that foreign refugees will probably face xenophobia as the experiences of DR Congo refugees show.

UNHCR and other human rights groups are concerned that Britain, which threw its doors open to Ukrainian refugees, is rushing a legislation that will keep out African and Asian migrants.

In his Easter message, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the impending law was contrary to the Christian principles upon which Britain was founded.

In taking this step, the UK will join countries like the United States, Australia, Israel and Denmark in the growing fad of outsourcing illegal migrants/refugees to third-party countries.

Under international law, countries are forbidden to return asylum seekers to the countries they are fleeing from if their lives are unsafe or to a third party country where they will be equally unsafe. It is called “refouling”.

What is at play here is that migrants tend to head towards their former colonial masters or industrialised countries in Europe and America. But due to economic, social and cultural reasons, these countries have adopted tough measures to protect themselves from the migrant menace.

This is what the UK-Rwanda deal is all about.

We posit that it is not enough to condemn countries for seeking to protect themselves from illegal migration. No country leaves its doors open to all comers.

The UN must do better than to just criticise sovereign countries. Internal stability must be encouraged in developing countries to stem illegal migrations. Unless the yawning gap between the rich and poor countries are minimised, illegal migrations will continue. So also, will refouling.

Source: News Express

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