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Britain and Rwanda fend off criticism over asylum deal

ritain's Home Secretary Priti Patel, left, speaks to the media with Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta   -  
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Muhizi Olivier/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Britain and Rwanda have continued to attempt to justify their highly controversial migration agreement against a tidal wave of criticism.

On Thursday the two countries announced a deal to send some people arriving in the U.K. as stowaways on trucks or in small boats to the East African country to have their asylum claims processed.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel and Vincent Biruta, the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs have written a joint article for the British newspaper, The Times, arguing their case.

In it, they said this "groundbreaking partnership will set a new international standard" and provide legal, safe, orderly and controlled ways for people to better their lives, flee oppression, persecution or conflict and enjoy new opportunities.

Speaking from London on Saturday, UNHCR senior legal officer Larry Bottinick said he felt there were "more humane ways" to deal the issue.

He said he had seen a similar scheme being undertaken when he worked in Israel which had not worked. 

"They were sending, on a voluntary basis Eritreans to Rwanda, Sudanese to Uganda and, you know, people moved on from Rwanda within a week."

"So it doesn't deter smuggling it promotes it."

"People went to South Sudan, Sudan to Libya and those that survived back to Europe. So it was more hazardous and more work for the people smugglers than the Channel will ever be."

During his Easter Sunday sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also criticised the deal, saying there are “serious ethical questions about sending asylum-seekers overseas.”

He said “sub-contracting out our responsibilities to refugees -- even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda-, can't stand up to God’s scrutiny.

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