Sophie McCann, Advocacy Officer at MSF UK, said:
“It is absolutely despicable that the UK Government is pushing ahead with plans to outsource the indefinite detention and processing of asylum seekers to Rwanda. When MSF teams worked on Nauru island, where the Australian government implemented a similar policy, they witnessed some of the worst suffering recorded in MSF’s 50-year existence.
One-third of our patients attempted suicide. Children as young as nine years-old were trying to kill themselves. This kind of suffering is what awaits refugees in Rwanda if plans go ahead. It is medically and ethically reprehensible.
These measures close off opportunities for refugees to gain a fair hearing on British soil and further undermine the Refugee Convention. The UK Government has a responsibility to process asylum claims of those arriving here and must not transfer this to another country, where the human suffering is concealed from public view.
Offshoring asylum seekers will further traumatise vulnerable, women, men and children who are seeking safety in the UK, some of whom will have already survived torture, sexual violence, trafficking and trauma. In pushing forward with the Nationality and Borders Bill, the government is putting lives at risk and cementing the UK as one of the most anti-refugee countries in the world.
Make no mistake, this government knows what the impact of this policy will be – it is knowingly and willingly subjecting refugees to horrific suffering.
Even at this late stage, we urge the Home Office to reconsider: drop the inhumane policies in the Borders Bill and commit to providing safe and legal routes for all people fleeing war and persecution before any more lives are destroyed.”