Rwanda plan is ‘performative cruelty’ says Welsh Refugee Council as UK Parliament approves Bill

Refugees in Wales say they are “devastated” that the UK Government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda could be revived.

Refugees and campaigners gathered at the Senedd on Tuesday to discuss the challenges facing asylum seekers in Wales.

Some expressed dismay at the UK Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as MPs were debating the proposals in Westminster.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak won the crunch vote on emergency legislation to “stop the boats”.

The bill would declare that Rwanda is a safe country, overruling a unanimous Supreme Court decision last month that the scheme was unlawful.

At the Sanctuary in the Senedd event, Niloha Rangel, who is a doctor and refugee from Venezuela, said: “We are devastated because they are sending people to a country which is supposed to be a safe country – it’s not a safe country.”

Niloha Rangel speaking at the Sanctuary in the Senedd event

Speaking in the House of Commons, Home Secretary James Cleverley argued the plan is within the framework of international law:

“The new treaty I signed last week with Rwanda and the bill that accompanies it are game changing.

“The principle of relocating people to a safe country to have their asylum claims processed there is entirely consistent with the terms of the Refugee Convention. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal unanimously confirmed this point.”

Harry Iles, the Chair of Trustees for the Welsh Refugee Council, said: “We should be ashamed that our government is going ahead with this. They know that it won’t work – there’s no evidence that it will even have the deterrent affect they intend.

“It’s a performative cruelty – they are trying to demonstrate that they are cruel in order to win votes from people who have narrow minds and to accommodate the right wing of the Tory party itself.”

The vote, which took place on Tuesday evening, saw parliament approve the Bill at second reading by 313 votes to 269. The bill be scrutinised in the committee stage – with further votes taking place next month.