UK challenges UNHCR’s double standards on Rwanda

On 14 December 2023 at 03:24

The Minister of State of the United Kingdom (UK) for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, has voiced strong concerns over what he perceives as double standards employed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in its treatment of migrants in Rwanda.

Mitchell highlighted a glaring contradiction in the UNHCR’s position, as the agency expressed reservations about the UK’s proposal to relocate migrants to Rwanda, citing safety concerns.

Simultaneously, the UNHCR has been actively involved in sending immigrants from Libya to the same destination.

The British Parliament recently passed a law affirming Rwanda as a safe country for hosting the transfer of immigrants who have illegally entered the United Kingdom.

This decision is a crucial component of the UK government’s strategy to curb illegal entries into the country by sea. However, the policy has encountered opposition from various UN agencies, including the UNHCR.

During an interview with AFP, Mitchell expressed his astonishment at the UNHCR’s stance, stating that he was genuinely surprised that the UNHCR strongly opposes Britain’s plan to send people to Rwanda, claiming it is not safe.

Mitchell underscored the significance of the British program in combating human trafficking in the English Channel, emphasizing the vulnerability of individuals subjected to dangerous journeys. He stated, "Many people, tragically, have lost their lives being smuggled through what is the largest and busiest navigational route in the world to enter the UK illegally.

The Secretary of State found it perplexing that the UNHCR criticized the British initiative while simultaneously participating in a similar action.

He said that it seems illogical that the UNHCR opposes Britain sending people to what they deem an unsafe country when their actions, like sending individuals to Rwanda, contradict that viewpoint.

In March 2023, Rwanda welcomed the 13th batch of 150 asylum seekers from Libya, directed to the Gashora transit camp, which serves as a temporary residence for refugees and migrants from Libya. The UNHCR spokesperson clarified that the camp serves as a transit location for specific reasons.