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A few hundred protesters gather this Monday, June 13, under the windows of the Ministry of the Interior, in the Westminster district. “Refugees are welcome here” (refugees are welcome here) and “Priti Patel, go to hell! » (Priti Patel – UK Home Secretary – go to hell!), the crowd sings. “We may have lost a battle today, but we will continue to fight to persuade people that there are not too many refugees in this country and that the Johnson administration’s immigration policy is wrong.” Hector, an activist with Barac UK, an anti-racist association, assures the microphone. Mary, a young woman from the NGO Joint Council for Immigrant Welfare, reads an email to the crowd of Home Office officials, who say she is “I’m sorry I was complicit in this unfair policy.”
The protesters want to express their disgust at the new British migration policy and their anger, on the eve of the scheduled departure of a first plane to Rwanda, with on board asylum seekers who have come to seek refuge in the United Kingdom. In April, Downing Street surprised immigrant aid groups, the Labor Party and even some conservative politicians by announcing a partnership with Kigali to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for the sole reason that they had arrived. “illegally” in the UK, that is, without a visa, most likely by crossing the Channel in a rubber dinghy.
“Break the economic model” of smugglers
This policy has been denounced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Church -who considers it “immoral” – and even, according to the Sunday papers, by Prince Charles – who would judge her “appalling”. That didn’t stop Priti Patel from trying to implement it. Sending asylum seekers (Afghans, Eritreans or Iranians) to Rwanda against their will, who would nevertheless have every chance of obtaining refugee status in the UK, is intended to discourage Channel crossings and therefore avoid drowning and “break the economic model” smugglers, insists the minister. He wants to show the conservative right that he is acting, when 10,000 people have already crossed the English Channel since the beginning of 2022.
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