Archbishop of Canterbury condemns ‘ungodly’ Rwanda migrants plan
The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the government’s “ungodly” plans to send illegal migrants to Rwanda.
In his Easter Sunday sermon, Justin Welby criticised Downing Street’s proposals as he said the policy raises “serious ethical questions” and cannot “stand the judgment of God” or “carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values”.
He said the plan is “the opposite of the nature of God”.
It comes after the government unveiled plans where anyone who enters Britain illegally will be flown more than 4,000 miles to Rwanda.
Under the plans, refugees who are approved in Rwanda will then be allowed to stay rather than being repatriated to the UK. Rejected applicants will be deported.
In his Easter address at Canterbury Cathedral Sunday morning, the Archbishop said he has "serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas".
"The principle must stand the judgement of God and it cannot," he says.
"It cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death. It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong.
"And it cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because 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."
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of supporting those in need of protection and our resettlement programmes have provided safe and legal routes to better futures for hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
“However, the world is facing a global migration crisis on an unprecedented scale and change is needed to prevent vile people smugglers putting people’s lives at risk and to fix the broken global asylum system.
“Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers. Under this agreement, they will process claims in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention, national and international human rights laws.”
Former child refugee and Labour peer Alf Dubs has said ministers will face opposition in the Lords over the plan.
In an interview with The Guardian, Lord Dubs said the Government was attempting to “ride roughshod” over international agreements.
He said: “I think it’s a way of getting rid of people the Government doesn’t want, dumping them in a distant African country, and they’ll have no chance of getting out of there again. I think it’s a breach of the 1951 Geneva conventions on refugees. You can’t just shunt them around like unwanted people.”
However, Ms Patel has defended the scheme.
She said Denmark is among the nations interested in reproducing the “blueprint” set out by the UK.
“There is no question now that the model we have put forward, I’m convinced, is world class and a world first, and it will be used as a blueprint going forward, there’s no doubt about that,” Ms Patel said.
“I would not be surprised if other countries start coming to us direct on the back of this as well.”