"The government's cruel, dangerous and futile plans to forcibly and permanently expel men, women and children seeking safety in the UK to Rwanda – or anywhere outside of the UK - will cause immense suffering. The Home Secretary has stated that Australia's 'offshoring' approach to handling people seeking asylum is the model for the UK’s Rwanda policy. As part of the Australian system, refugees and asylum seekers were expelled to and detained on Nauru Island. MSF responded to the resulting mental health epidemic: two thirds of our asylum-seeking and refugee patients on Nauru had self-harmed, thought about or attempted to kill themselves, including children as young as nine years old.
Now, even before anyone has been expelled to Rwanda, we are already seeing the harm caused by the prospect of being removed there. The policy has triggered fear and confusion, exacerbating the mental health conditions - including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression - of people who have already suffered harrowing situations in their countries of origin followed by highly traumatic journeys, and who are now threatened with expulsion.
It is abhorrent that the UK is punishing people simply for seeking safety – and at the same time shutting down the few safe routes to the country that exist. Ministers must abandon the Rwanda policy and instead focus on establishing routes to the UK for people fleeing conflict and persecution." - Dr Natalie Roberts Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders