Britain and Rwanda defend plan for asylum seekers in UN agencies

GENEVA (AP) — Britain and Rwanda clashed Thursday with two UN agencies that have sharply criticized their controversial plan in which Britain hopes to send some UK asylum seekers to the African country.

In an interview with The Associated Press before meeting with top officials from UN human rights and refugee agencies, Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta acknowledged it was “good for them to care,” adding that the The discussion aimed to “incorporate” him to work with the two countries.

The head of the UN refugee agency, on Twitter, seemed unconvinced.

According to the plan presented last monthBritish officials said they will send migrants who arrive in the UK illegally, often as stowaways or in small boats crossing the English Channel, to Rwanda. The migrants’ asylum applications will be processed there and, if successful, the migrants will remain there.

UN officials and other critics, particularly in the two countries, have raised human rights concerns and warned that such a move runs counter to the International Refugee Convention.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel said Britain had seen more than 20,000 people smuggled in over the past year and insisted her Conservative government, along with Rwanda, was “finding innovative new solutions to global problems” in in the midst of an illegal immigration crisis. She insisted the plan was about saving the lives of people kidnapped by smugglers on often treacherous journeys to try to reach Britain.

“I’m afraid that other organizations and other countries, you know, are not coming up with alternatives, and the status quo is just not acceptable anymore,” he said.

The meetings come a day after Patel’s office, host to Biruta in London, announced that a “first group of illegal immigrants with no right to be in the UK has already been notified” of the British government’s intention to relocate them. in Rwanda.

Patel declined to specify how many people would be in that first group, how they got to Britain, or how many people in general might be sent to Rwanda under the plan, saying “we don’t share our operational details.”

He denounced “a lot of deliberate misinformation” about the people who would be sent to Rwanda. He also praised his country’s “excellent record of resettling people and welcoming immigrants and refugees,” noting that 15,000 people were brought from Afghanistan to Britain and the issuance of 100,000 visas to Ukrainians.

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Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

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