Ukrainian refugees risk being sent to Rwanda if they travel to Britain without permission. Boris Johnson has said in an escalation of the government’s plans to deport those traveling across the canal to seek refuge.
During a visit to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, the Prime Minister also called on the NATO and G7 countries not to settle for a “bad peace” in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, saying it would lead to the escalation of Vladimir Putin’s war machine.
But asked at the Commonwealth Government meeting (Chogm) whether Ukrainians arriving by boat could be exposed to the east Africahe said: “The only circumstances in which people will be sent to Rwanda would be if they come to Britain illegally, thereby undermining the safe and legal routes we have. I think we are giving 130,000 visas to Ukrainians, and they have at least two very good routes to get to this country.
“But if you come here illegally, you are undermining all those who come here legally. And it’s crazy. So I’m afraid the answer is that I suppose, well, in theory it could happen. But I think It is very unlikely. ”
Johnson’s remarks came as:
Politicians from 11 European countries condemned the Rwanda-UK scheme. But it emerged that Johnson did not raise human rights violations when he met with the country’s president, Paul Kagame, on Thursday, despite previous indications that he would.
Prior to one meeting with Prince Charles on Friday, Johnson was optimistic by saying he would defend the policy afterwards the heir to the throne allegedly called it “shocking” – but sources in Downing Street and Clarence House suggested that the subject would not be taken up.
The Rwandan government has confirmed that it has already received £ 120 million from the British government to house asylum seekers who have not yet arrived and have spent part of the money.
The prime minister promised £ 372 million in aid to help countries struggling with sky-high food prices.
Critics of the government’s response to the war in Ukraine have pointed out that Britain accepts fewer Ukrainians per than most of Europe.
Enver Solomon, Executive Director of the Refugee Council, said: “In stark contrast to the British public who have opened their doors to welcome Ukrainians in the desperate search for security, our Prime Minister has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to treating them as humane. to be transported from the United Kingdom to Rwanda. “
In comments delivered days before joining G7 leaders in Germany and then on to NATO in Spain, Johnson also warned that “Ukraine fatigue” may have plagued some of the major Western powers.
“My message to colleagues in the G7 and in NATO in particular will be ‘now is not the time to settle down and encourage the Ukrainians to settle for a bad peace, for a peace for which they are invited to give up bits of their territory in return for a ceasefire.I think it would be a disaster.It would be a trigger for further escalation of Putin whenever he wanted, he said.
The government in Kigali has confirmed that it has started spending the £ 120 million payment on the asylum scheme, which was signed as part of a joint agreement in April.
Rwandan Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said: “Because it was intended to prepare all the housing and all the other institutions to strengthen the processes – so it has been done.”
Pressed on whether any of it had already been used, she said: “Part of it because we had to get ready and we were ready to receive the first migrants on the 14th.”
Johnson promised to start sending thousands of asylum seekers 4,000 miles away in May after a deeper concern over the growing number of small boats carrying asylum seekers across the Channel.
Earlier in the month, the first flight was abandoned after a dramatic ruling in the 11th hour of European Court of Human Rights (EMK).
Amid claims that Charles could raise migrant policy at their meeting, Johnson was optimistic when asked how he would react. In an interview with TV stations at a school in Kigali, the Prime Minister said: “People need to have an open mind about politics, critics need to have an open mind about politics. Many people can see its obvious benefits. So yes, of course, if I have to see the prince tomorrow, I will make it clear. “
Hours later, both Downing Street and Clarence House downplayed the possibility of a clash. Sources from both sides said they would not take up the subject when they meet.
Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europefrom countries including Armenia, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy and Turkey stood in line to condemn Britain for its behavior over Rwanda on Thursday.
Germany’s Frank Schwabe said: “Rwanda cannot be a partner in any kind of migration agreement. It is very worrying that Britain is prepared to damage respect for [the ECHR) because of a single decision it doesn’t like. The bill [of rights] will create an acceptable class of human rights violations. ”
He added: “You are part of questioning and ultimately destroying this organization and its values. Let it be.”