Blog: Deal to send refugees to Rwanda is a ‘cruel trick’

UNISON writes to all MPs asking them to take a stand for decency against a policy that shows a government with no moral compass

A child refugees hands on a wire fence

Last week, the UK government signed a deal with the autocratic government of Rwanda that would see us pay money for every refugee we deport from our shores. It is not just a trade in vulnerable human beings, it’s trading away our moral, legal and humanitarian duties.

Rwanda will be paid to take on the UK’s obligations to provide safe refuge to those fleeing wars and persecution. The deal will include families, women and children.

It will include deporting LGBT+ people – who turn to the UK for safety – to a country where gay and transgender people say that security officials accuse them of “not representing Rwandan values” and that those who are imprisoned are accused of “deviant behaviour that is harmful to the public.”

Given that the UK government itself has expressed concerns about human rights abuses in Rwanda, it’s clearly been chosen due to its willingness to engage in a commercial transaction with the UK in asylum seekers, rather than its fitness to make judgements on asylum claims.

The UK government is engaging in a cruel trick – any asylum seeker making their way to the UK will be regarded as “illegal” unless they use an approved route. Yet approved routes are capped and extremely restricted.

Over the past year, we have seen terrible suffering in places like Afghanistan and Ukraine, and the inhumane and bureaucratic barriers built by the Home Office aim to prevent people seeking safety in the UK.

So many in the UK have opened up their homes and their hearts to try and help. The government have responded by closing doors.

This is the action of a prime minister without a moral compass and with no answer to our real problems. He won’t help families struggling to pay bills or buy food, but is prepared to pay millions to Rwanda in order to “get tough” on refugees.

This morning, UNISON has written to every MP to ask them to stand up for decency and to stand against this cruel policy, devised by a government that has no respect for the law or the rules that we ask the international community to abide by.