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UK plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda morally disgraceful

An inflatable boat carrying around 65 migrants crosses the English Channel on March 6, 2024.Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Another overcrowded boat making the treacherous, sometimes deadly, journey to southern England from French shores. Five, including a seven-year-old girl didn't make it this time.

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have made such voyages over the last two years.

The lives of many now hang in the balance as the British parliament passes legislation that allows the government to deport irregular migrants to the East African country of Rwanda, as they await their asylum applications to be processed.

My Lords, Rwanda is a safe country that has proven time and again its ability to offer asylum seekers a safe haven and a chance to build a new life.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom

In recent years, a series of UK politicians have sought to deport asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda.

Last year, the UK's highest court blocked the planed deportations, deeming them "unlawful and risky."

In an attempt to circumvent the courts, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak proposed an updated law.

Critics say his priority is to improve his flagging poll numbers.

It is an electoral ploy, and that's all it is.

It's practically unworkable. It's morally disgraceful.

It's simply the end of a desperate Tory government trying to whip up a racist tidal wave that it hopes will save it from the next general election defeat, which it won't.

John Rees, Journalist and Activist

Some polls conducted prior to the vote found six in ten Britons, including conservative voters, thought the government should either accept some amendments to the random policy or scrap it altogether.

I think it's absolutely appalling. I don't see it's going to be a reasonable deterrent. People come here because they're desperate.

Member of Public 01

I think it's disgraceful. It is setting a terrible precedent and it's totally the wrong way to treat humans.

Member of Public 02

The controversial law is expected to come into force within days and the first deportation flights to commence within weeks.

UN rights experts have warned airlines and aviation regulators against participating in the deportations which contravene international law.

Now that the bill has cleared the parliamentary hurdles, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak can declare victory, at least with regard to the legislative piece of the puzzle, but that is only the first step.

Experts and critics say that even if the flights to Rwanda get in the air, the prospects of stopping or deterring boats from arriving on British shores through the English Channel are heavily contested.

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