Archbishop condemns Rwanda asylum plan

Speaking on Easter Sunday, Archbishop Justin Welby said there were “serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas”. [EPA-EFE/KHALED ELFIQI]

The backlash against the UK government’s controversial £120 million plan to outsource the processing of thousands of asylum seeker claims to Rwanda continued over the weekend with criticism from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Church.

Speaking on Easter Sunday, Archbishop Justin Welby said there were “serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas”.

“Sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God, who himself took responsibility for our failures,” he added.

The plan could see potentially thousands of asylum seekers given a one-way ticket to the East African country where their claim will be processed. However, it has been dismissed as illegal by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and a group of over 150 campaign groups issued an open letter to the government denouncing the plan as “cruel”.

In a letter published by the Home Office on Sunday, the department’s top civil servant, Matthew Rycroft told minister Priti Patel that there was no “sufficient evidence” that the programme would deter people from attempting to cross the Channel into the UK, but that this did not mean that it would not work.

The government contends that the scheme is designed to combat human trafficking while also reducing the cost of hosting and processing asylum seekers.

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