UNHCR ‘strongly’ opposes UK-Rwanda extraterritorial migration processing deal — Global Affairs

In an initial response, UNHCR explained that it was not part of the negotiations that took place between London and Kigali, which are understood to be part of an economic development partnership.

According to press reports, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the plan, which costs around $160 million, would “save countless lives” from human trafficking and the often treacherous crossing of waters between South of England and the French coast, known as the English Channel.

UNHCR remains strongly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum seekers to third countries in the absence of sufficient guarantees and standards.said UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs, describing the arrangements as a shift in asylum responsibilities and a evasion of international obligations that are “contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention.”

be in solidarity

UNHCR urged both countries to rethink the scheme, warning that instead of deterring refugees from dangerous journeys, outsourcing deals would only increase the risks, causing refugees to seek alternative routes and exacerbating pressures on frontline states for which migrants try to pass.

While Rwanda has generously provided a safe haven for decades for refugees fleeing conflict and persecution, most live in camps with limited access to economic opportunity.

UNHCR stressed that wealthier nations must show solidarity in supporting Rwanda and the refugees it already hosts, not the other way around.

People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy”, stressed Ms. Triggs. “They should not be traded as commodities and transferred abroad for processing.”

UNHCR said in its statement that the UK has an obligation to ensure access for asylum seekers, integrating those considered refugees and returning safely to their country of origin, people with no legal basis to stay.

Yet Britain is instead adopting arrangements that abdicate responsibility to others, thereby threatening the international refugee protection regime that has stood the test of time and saved millions of lives over decades.

manage sanctuary

The UK has often supported UNHCR, providing significant contributions that help protect refugees and support countries in conflict, including Ukraine, the agency noted.

However, financial support abroad for certain refugee crises cannot replace the responsibility of States and the obligation to receive asylum seekers and protect refugees on their own territory, regardless of their race, nationality and mode of residence. of arrival, stressed the UN agency.

While UNHCR acknowledges the challenges posed by forced displacement, it argued that developed countries host only a fraction of the world’s refugees and have the capacity to handle asylum claims humanely, fairly and efficiently.

Without outsourcing asylum

In the past, UNHCR has also spoken out against Australia’s offshore migrant processing policy, which involved redirecting people on the move to Nauru, a Pacific island, thousands of miles away.

UNHCR has made it clear that it does not support the outsourcing of asylum by countries, including measures taken to transfer asylum seekers and refugees to other nations, with insufficient safeguards to protect their rights, or where this leads to change instead of sharing the rights. responsibilities to protect them.

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