Undocumented people traveling from Ukraine to the UK via Ireland could be considered for travel to Rwanda, a senior Home Office official told MPs.
During the same selection committee hearing, a minister refused to answer when repeatedly asked whether Ukrainians who arrived in the UK via the English Channel by boat could also be brought to the country. Central Africa or not.
The exchanges took place at the home affairs select committee, where minister Tom Pursglove was unable to indicate any calculations that the government’s relocation policy would reduce the number of people coming to the UK by small boat.
Some Conservative MPs have criticized Ireland’s decision to lift all restrictions on refugees fleeing war, arguing it would create a back door for the UK, making it easier to attacked by potential criminals.
It has been pointed out that the shared travel zone means that Ukrainians who have not passed British security or are waiting for a visa can enter the UK by traveling to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland and then going to the UK. ferry to the UK. .
Stuart C McDonald, SNP home affairs spokesman and committee member, asked Dan Hobbs, director of asylum, protection and enforcement, about Ukrainians from Ireland crossing the border from Ireland to Northern Ireland. . “Are they within the scope of this policy?” he say.
Hobbs replied, “Depending on individual circumstances they may not fall under the ‘unacceptable’ criteria.”
“You’re leaving the door open to the possibility that you could go from Dublin to Belfast and potentially end up in Rwanda,” McDonald said.
Earlier, Diana Johnson, chair of the committee, asked Pursglove whether Ukrainians arriving in the UK by small boat would be deemed “unacceptable” and therefore subject to removal.
Pursglove, Minister of Justice and Illegal Migration, replied: “There is absolutely no reason for any Ukrainian to get on a small boat and pay a smuggler to take it. to enter the UK”.
When asked what model to use to provide the “evidence basis for this decision”, the minister replied: “This is a new policy and has not been tested at this time. I think in full time we’ll see this policy, as part of the broader package of services we’re introducing, really change the dynamics. ”
Johnson says it looks like the model hasn’t been implemented. Pursglove replied: “I’m happy to know an alternative.”
Two safe and legal routes by which Ukrainian refugees can enter the UK – the Ukrainian family scheme and the Home for Ukraine program – have been beset by delays. Latest government data shows 37,400 out of 125,100 applicants have arrived in the UK.
Under plans announced last month by Home Secretary, Priti Patel, the UK will pay asylum seekers believed to have arrived in Rwanda “illegally”, where their claims will be handling.
In theory, they should be granted asylum or granted refugee status within the country. Boris Johnson said “tens of thousands” of illegal migrants would be moved to Rwanda.
Documents released by the government on Monday show that the Rwandan government has processed a maximum of 307 asylum cases in a year since 2016.
Joanna Cherry, attending a session from the joint commission on human rights, asked Pursglove if he would accept reports from the US state department, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documenting “incidents unlawful or arbitrary murder”, along with the Rwandan government’s forced disappearances and torture.
Pursglove said that “Rwanda is generally a safe and secure country” to use for resettlement, arguing that there was “no systematic violation” of human rights obligations in the East African country. this.
The government announced on Monday that the process of moving people to Rwanda will begin within the next few weeks.
Responding to the hearing, Enver Solomon, executive director of the Refugee Council, said: “This government has now publicly acknowledged that it intends to consider any person fleeing war or persecution. paintings from all over the world as an item shipped to Rwanda. This includes people who are fleeing deadly conflicts in Ukraine and Afghanistan right now. It is horribly cruel and will cause great human suffering.
“We urge the government to immediately rethink its plan and focus on operating an orderly, humane and fair refugee system.”