Geography | Citizenship

Asylum-seekers face a flight to despair

Is it right to send migrants to Rwanda? The British government’s plan to deport the first plane load today has faced legal challenges – and been branded "appalling" by the Prince of Wales.  The Iranian policeman could not believe what was happening. He had fled his homeland after refusing to shoot protesters during anti-government demonstrations. For over a year, he had lived in hiding in Turkey. He had made his way over Europe and risked his life crossing the Channel in a small boat. And now he was being sent 4,000 miles away – to Rwanda. Eleven asylum-seekers were scheduled to fly to Kigali today. Another 26 had been saved by legal action. But on Friday the High Court refused to grant an injunction against the government’s policy. Yesterday an appeal was made against that decision, offering the refugees a last desperate hope. When the deportees arrive, the Rwandan authorities will consider their claims to asylum. If successful, they will be allowed to remain in the country and make a new life there. Migration is a key issue for many of the British government’s supporters. So far this year, more than 10,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats. Boris Johnson believes they will stop if they know they are likely to end up in Africa instead. But the Refugee Council has condemned the scheme as “cruel and nasty” and says it will not work. Yesterday, the Prince of Wales was reported to have called it “appalling” in private conversations. He is apparently worried that it could overshadow this month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali, where he will represent the Queen. The UK is not the first country to try this. Israel has given asylum-seekers a choice between being locked up or sent to Rwanda. But those who chose Rwanda complain of being badly treated there and given no chance of a “new life”. Rwanda is seen by some as a brilliant, go-ahead African state. But others complain that it is a dictatorship with a poor human-rights record. Is it right to send migrants to Rwanda? Flight fright Yes: Britain is doing refugees a favour by deterring people traffickers. What asylum-seekers want is protection from war and persecution. They will get that in Rwanda just as much as in the UK.  No: Nobody risks crossing the Channel in a small boat unless they are desperate. These are people who have suffered appallingly: sending them to an inhospitable country will only add to their distress. Or... This is a complex issue. In the short term, it could offer migrants a better life – but in the long term, it cannot be solved by simply passing people on to another country to deal with.  KeywordsAnti-government demonstrations - They took place in 2019. Estimates of the number of people killed range from 300 to 1,500.

Continue Reading

The Day is an independent, online, subscription-based news publication for schools, focusing on the big global issues beneath the headlines. Our dedicated newsroom writes news, features, polls, quizzes, translations… activities to bring the wider world into the classroom. Through the news we help children and teachers develop the thinking, speaking and writing skills to build a better world. Our stories are a proven cross-curricular resource published at five different reading levels for ages 5 to 19. The Day has a loyal and growing membership in over 70 countries and its effectiveness is supported by case studies and teacher endorsements.

Start your free trial Already have an account? Log in / register