We are dismayed and extremely concerned by the recent Government decision to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda. The plan will do little to achieve its stated aims of deterring people from making dangerous journeys to seek sanctuary in the UK, but instead it will create further harm and fail to protect human rights, at an enormous cost to the UK taxpayer.
85% of the world’s refugee population is already hosted in developing countries. Following on from the success of the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which saw the UK resettle 20,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria between 2015 and 2020, we call on the Government to invest instead in improving and speeding up the current asylum system and commit to opening up safe routes to protection in the UK.
Currently, these routes are very limited, which leaves people seeking sanctuary in the UK with little choice but to arrive in the country through irregular means. As the fifth wealthiest nation in the world, and known for its commitment to human rights, a UK target to resettle 10,000 refugees a year as a minimum would signal that this is a welcoming country to those fleeing danger.
We welcome the announcement that all councils will be expected to participate in asylum dispersal. Under the current system, only a small number of councils across the UK provide asylum accommodation and support – Cornwall is not one of them – and this results in highly uneven dispersal of asylum seekers and refugees across the UK.
As a small voluntary network of individuals, groups and organisations working to help refugees and asylum seekers in Cornwall and beyond, we have seen the network expand rapidly during the past few years. In addition, Cornwall is home to award-winning community sponsorship groups and recently made headlines with over 2,000 offers of accommodation to host refugees from Ukraine. This is testament to the phenomenal level of support, welcome and successful community organising in the region, but it is currently underutilised. We believe that Cornwall can do more to step up and match the generosity of its residents and has the ability to successfully participate in the asylum dispersal scheme.
By continuing to press ahead with plans to relocate people to Rwanda, the Government is failing to consider alternative options and choosing to squander the kindness and welcome evident throughout resident communities across the UK. We hope that the Government will reconsider its decision and choose to invest in people and not planes to Rwanda.