LET us talk about the plight of refugees living here and in Britain. It is really shocking, to say the least, at a time when many countries around the world have civil or international conflicts and refugees have a right to escape, here are the Tories in London plying their xenophobic policies again!
First, Israel – a country with no shame about its border policies and practice. Since late 2013, Israel has had a “voluntary departure” programme, transferring refugees to Rwanda and Uganda. Israel, like many countries of the world, ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol about the status of refugees. In simple words, this world agreement established the responsibilities of every country to provide rights and services to refugees, no matter where they come from.
In the past 20 years Israel targeted refugees, from Eritrea mainly, and later other countries. In 2018, Israel embarked on removal methods that were inhuman and they have used force when Tel Aviv wants to relocate refugees to Rwanda. Some Israelis protested and the outcry led to a temporary stoppage of these plans. So, off-shoring of refugees from Eritrea, Sudan etc. living in Libya or Israel and other countries is not a new thing. Those who were brought to Rwanda from Libya were refugees who failed to get to their final destination, Europe.
In 2019 the United Nations signed an agreement with Rwanda to implement the removal of thousands of refugees to Rwanda.
This week, I was talking to a group of recently arrived refugees from South Sudan who live in Belfast South. They are worried that London’s policy of sending refugees to Rwanda might catch up with them soon. They are really worried. I asked them why they are worried and they said that they have heard that they are not wanted in the country; that they are not offering anything tangible in return whichever way they came here and so Prime Minister Boris Johnson through his Home Office Minister Priti Sushil Patel wants to fly them out of the country ASAP.
The United Nations has condemned this policy. I am yet to hear any substantive support for the policy from members of the public, in fact even the anti-immigrant brigade are complaining thus: where is all this £120 million coming from to transport refugees from all over the world out of the UK to Rwanda?
The refugees have good logical reasons for escaping their countries. The ancestry of Boris Johnson itself has a history of seeking refuge abroad. His great grandfather, a Turkish man called Ali Kemal Bey, was exiled during that country’s revolution years before he met his horrible death. These kinds of horrible histories in Johnson’s life should make him very empathetic to the trials facing refugees.
Why Rwanda? What is the magic in Rwanda that the refugees must embrace?