Passing the Buck

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The United Kingdom will send future asylum seekers to Rwanda under a controversial scheme that has raised alarms among human rights groups and refugee advocates, Al Jazeera reported.

Under the plan, the British government would screen arriving asylum seekers and deliver their personal information to Rwanda before transferring them to the central African country.

The Rwandan government will then process their applications and successful asylum seekers will settle there, according to iNews. Rwanda, meanwhile, will receive an initial payment of more than $156 million to invest in “economic development and growth.”

The proposed scheme will take effect after parliament approves a bill that would criminalize any refugees entering the country without a valid visa.

The contentious move is part of the British government’s efforts to stop asylum seekers from reaching Britain using boats to cross the English Channel. Last year, more than an estimated 28,000 immigrants and refugees traveled from Europe to the UK using small boats.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the plan would “save countless lives” and clamp down on human smugglers. Rwanda also added that it will provide refugees “a dignified life with shelter.”

But human rights organizations slammed the proposed plan as “cruel,” “inhumane” and “neo-colonial.” The United Nation’s refugee agency also opposed the move, saying that asylum seekers and refugees “should not be traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing.”

Others have also criticized Rwanda’s human rights record: The government is accused of torturing, intimidating and assassinating its political opponents and marginalized groups.

Johnson noted that the proposal will become “a new international standard” in handling migration but Amnesty International warned that such a plan could “set a dangerous trend for other Western countries to adopt their offshore asylum schemes.”

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