The new announcement of the partnership with Rwanda is a huge step in the right direction to tackle illegal immigration in the UK. This will be a huge deterrent to the people smuggler, traffickers and criminal gangs who exploit vulnerable people by sticking them in small boats across the channel, often to their death.
To dispel all the myth and false reporting we are seeing, this is about ILLEGAL immigration to our country, not for those who seek refuge via our legal asylum system.
Notwithstanding the human cost to these boats crossing from France, sent by the criminal gangs, the physical cost now exceeds £1.5billion per year which does not include the additional costs on services like health and education. We now have over 105,000 people in backlog from those who have crossed illegally from safe countries. Our current system is not only failing those who come here but is failing the British people. It is simply not sustainable.
Rwanda has a credible track record of hosting refugees and working constructively with the UN Refugee Agency to provide food, healthcare and jobs with over 130,000 refugees recently resettled. The EU and UN both resettle people in Rwanda. Since 2019 Rwanda has been working with the UN Refugee Agency and the African Union to support over 500 refugees and asylum seekers evacuated from Libya, under the Emergency Transit Mechanism. They are housed at a dedicated centre providing mental health services, legal assistance, employment training and opportunities. Rwanda has also supported around 30,000 Burundian refugees who have also transited to the centre since 2015.
These new measures, combined with the reforms to the asylum system and the changes to our laws in the Nationality and Borders Bill, will help deter illegal entry into the UK. In doing so it will help break the business model of the criminal smuggling gangs, protect the lives of those they endanger, ensure continued support for the truly vulnerable, and enhance our ability to remove those with no right to be in the UK.
It is for the above reasons that I welcome this new partnership and look forward to this innovative policy saving lives and cutting off the criminal gangs who exploit vulnerable people. It is morally right that we save lives in this way.