Ahead of this week’s hearing on the legal challenge brought by PCS, Care4Calais and Detention Action against the UK Government’s Rwanda plan, Sophie McCann, Advocacy Officer at Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders UK said:
“There is still time for the Government to drop this unnecessary and cruel policy. It shouldn’t need to be dragged through the courts to make it see sense.
“MSF teams on Nauru island, where Australia enacted a similar policy of ‘offshore processing’, witnessed some of the worst mental health suffering they have ever seen as a result of this approach. They provided mental health care to 208 refugees and asylum-seekers – of those, 60 percent had suicidal thoughts and 30 percent had attempted to take their own lives.
“The Australian approach – which the UK Government has openly modeled its policy on – also resulted in families being torn apart from their loved ones. Children as young as nine were found to have suicidal thoughts, committed acts of self-harm or attempted suicide.
“It is beyond belief that the Government continues to push ahead with this policy, despite concerns that it contravenes the Refugee Convention, the well-documented harms of similar policies in Australia and evidence of the detrimental impact this plan is already having on individuals in the UK threatened with removal.
"We continue to urge the UK Government to see sense and to focus on providing the safe and legal routes to this country, which is the only way of ensuring vulnerable people will not be forced into dangerous journeys to reach safety.”
Notes to editors:
For further information, please contact [email protected] / +44 7791 755 415
Recent evidence from Medical Justice reveals the impact the Government’s policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda without considering their claim is already having, before any flights have even taken place. A report published by Medical Justice last week showed how the prospect of removal to Rwanda is compounding and exacerbating existing mental health issues.
Leading medical organisations in the UK have previously warned that forced expulsions will have severe medical consequences for those removed.