A letter to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is signed by top medical and health officials, urging Mr. Sunak to abandon his plans which would cause “catastrophic mental and physical harm” to those seeking refuge.
The UK scheme, which has costed the government £140m so far, has not started deporting refugees yet, but is still expected to cause the same “unconscionable and abhorrent” consequences. As the open letter notes, a similar scheme was tried and failed by the Australian government, where “more than two thirds of their 208 asylum seeker and refugee patients – including children – engaged in self-harm, suicidal ideation and acts”.
Although the scheme was found ‘lawful’ by two senior judges in the High Court last year, the appeal is being brought by refugees from countries including Syria and Iraq, and from Asylum Aid. In March earlier this year, a further appeal was also permitted, allowing asylum seekers to challenge the high court for its failure to recognise the dangers asylum seekers may face if sent to Rwanda.
The UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, provided caution and warning regarding Rwanda’s poor systems of safeguarding refugees. Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights’s ‘interim measure’ stopped the first flight to Rwanda that was planned to take place last year, only hours before take-off. However such interim measures may be ignored in the future due to a proposed new clause 26 of the Home Secretary’s proposed Illegal Migration Bill, which allows Ministers to not make decisions about migrants where interim measures may apply.
The Prime Ministers and his backers remain adamant, believing that their scheme will effectively “Stop the boats”, acting to deter the thousands of people who cross the Channel each year. Although, this year over 5,000 refugees have crossed the Channel which is similar to the figures this time last year which was prior to the introduction of the scheme.
Despite the heavy criticism of the Rwanda scheme by medical bodies, human rights organisations and international bodies, the government guarantees that once legal proceedings have ended, the plan will go ahead.
More information can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/apr/24/uk-medical-bodies-gravely-concerned-over-rwanda-deportation-scheme