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Protesters rally against government's migration policies outside UK Home Office

Former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) stands with demonstrators during a protest against the government migration policy outside the Home Office in London, on Dec. 18, 2023.   -  
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United Kingdom

Protesters gathered on Monday (Dec.18) outside the UK home office in London. They denounced the government's immigration policies including its Rwanda asylum plan.

The relocation initiative, introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, aims to process and potentially resettle asylum seekers in Rwanda, as a deterrent for those attempting to cross the English Channel in small boats. Despite legal challenges causing repeated delays, no asylum seekers have been sent from the UK under this scheme.

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the speakers who took to the rostrum.

"The protest here is in support of people's right to seek asylum in our society. And it's also condemning the government for pushing legislation through Parliament to try and get around a Supreme Court judgement, which is saying the removal of people to Rwanda is illegal."

On December 12, the UK House of Commons voted 313-269 to approve the government’s Rwanda bill in principle, sending it on for further scrutiny. The bill sought to overcome a ruling by the U.K. Supreme Court that the plan to send migrants who reach Britain across the English Channel in boats to Rwanda – where they would stay permanently -- is illegal.

The bill is the result of a new deal that was signed on December 5 by Rwanda and the UK.

Migrants Day

Protest "Stop the hate" which took on Migrants Day was organised by various groups including Stand Up to Racism and Care4Calais.

Namibian activist Florence Handura who immigrated to the U.K recounted why she fled her coutry:

"I was stabbed with a knife (in Namibia -ed). At another point again, I was also beaten up. Because I'm an activist in Namibia, I used to stand up for my people under the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation."

"I felt it was not safe. I came here and I claimed reparation. But the British government feel that is not reason enough for me to be here, I have to go back, there is no harm which is going to happen to me - which is not true."

In addition to trying to reduce illegal migration, the Uk's government has toughened legal migration rules for family and work visas in 2024.

Speaking from Geneva in early October, the International Organization for Migration (OIM) chief Amy Pope focused on the evidence that migration can boost economies by providing well-needed workers or new innovation.

"Our number one goal is to really harness the benefits and the promise of migration, and it's my belief that when we work together with communities, when we work together with governments, we can start to build out ways to find opportunities for people who are on the move rather than just treating the issue as a problem to be solved," Pope advised.

"The evidence is fairly overwhelming that migration actually benefits economies," she added.

Pope also advised that migration was driven by people seeking work and that if "regular realistic pathways" were created and a comprehensive approach adopted towards migration, then the positive benefits of migration could be realised.

According to the UK Home office, ‘worker’ visas (previously known as ‘skilled work’) accounted for two-thirds (67%) of all work-related visas granted in the year ending June 2022 with 216,450 grants.

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