Outsourcing Futures

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Hundreds of migrants are crossing the dangerous English Channel to start new lives in Britain even as authorities in London unveiled a plan last month to permanently settle them more than 6,000 miles away in the African country of Rwanda.

Described in the BBC as a “one-way ticket to Rwanda for some UK asylum seekers,” the plan reflected consternation in Westminster over what to do with thousands of migrants who have come to the United Kingdom with the help of human traffickers, the Financial Times reported. Many live in a tent city and other encampments in and around the French city of Calais, as Truthout explained. Last year, 27 died in a boat that sank off the French coast.

The plan also stirred controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury described it as “subcontracting,” reported Agence France-Presse. Numerous groups have filed lawsuits to stop the government.

Some of the migrants in France told the Daily Mail they would remain on the European mainland rather than cross the Channel to Devon in England. “We came from Africa – we don’t want to go back,’ Mohammed Noor, a migrant in Calais, told the British newspaper. “Nobody wants to go to Rwanda. If I go, I will finish my life. In Rwanda, I won’t get a good life. I have come here for Europe and for the UK.”

But a nonprofit called Care4Calais conducted a poll that found that most migrants remain undeterred despite the Rwanda policy. Only a quarter of migrants expressed second thoughts, Care4Calais found, according to the Guardian.

The policy has instilled fear in migrants now awaiting asylum in Britain, wrote the New York Times. Home Office officials, meanwhile, said moving asylum seekers to another country was in accordance with international law. Rwanda supports the plan because it is paid to do so. Human rights groups, meanwhile, said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the controversial policy because of pressure due to a series of flops related to the government’s Covid-19 response and other issues.

Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah slammed the Rwanda policy as “repulsive.”  Britain is giving Rwanda more than $150 million to pay for housing, education and training and other services related to the relocation. “That’s a very posh way of saying: We are going to pay a poorer country to take human beings we don’t want,” argued Attiah.

Writing in the Conversation, Queen Mary University of London Professor of Hispanic, Cultural and Migration Studies Parvati Nair said the Rwanda policy is a political tool that offloads the West’s problems while increasing its power in recipient countries that receive financial incentives to comply.

Denmark, meanwhile, is also exploring this “tool,” Amnesty International wrote, saying it’s likely a violation of international law.

In a globalized world, it shouldn’t be surprising that refugee policy can be outsourced as easily as call centers.

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