28 May, 2024 - By Leyla Williams

The Rwanda Plan Must Go

West London Welcome’s community of refugees, asylum-seeking people, migrants and locals have spent months supporting each other as the UK Home Office has targeted a number of our community members with letters and phonecalls threatening their removal to Rwanda. This appallingly cruel scheme must no longer go ahead.

Despite the Home Office’s efforts, they have not been able to organise a flight of asylum-seeking people to Rwanda since they first announced their plan to do so back in 2022.

At West London Welcome we work closely with legal aid lawyers across London who act as the legal representatives of our asylum-seeking community members, but who are also legally challenging the government’s Rwanda policy itself. It is incompatible with international law and human rights obligations, undermines people’s right to asylum, and has caused endless anxiety for countless people in our community – not just those directly affected by the policy, but their friends and families too.

In one case, a young asylum-seeking man we support with a severe disability has now twice been called up by the Home Office and offered £3000 to voluntarily get on a plane to Rwanda – which he declined – causing him huge distress. We have thankfully found him excellent legal representation. It is only due to the support of his family and strong community of friends here at West London Welcome that he has been able to cope with the fear and mental setback of such shocking treatment.

As of this week, our community have a glimmer of hope that the Rwanda plan will never go ahead given what is being reported in the media and the government’s fast-changing and unclear approach to the policy. But as it stands, the policy still hasn’t been withdrawn by the government. Asylum-seeking people have been detained by the Home Office under this policy in recent weeks, and while lawyers have successfully enabled the release of many people, others are still waiting to be bailed out from detention centres. We support the legal fights and fundraisers of law firms such as Asylum Aid, who have one week left to raise enough money for their legal action against the Rwanda policy. We also support the calls of lawyers who suggest that asylum-seeking people who have been detained should bring damages claims against the government for detaining them for no good reason.

We stand resolute with our asylum-seeking community members and call for their right to dignity, just treatment, and ability to claim asylum here in the UK without being subject to fear and threats of removal. It is safe routes to the UK and humane treatment of the most vulnerable in society, not the continuation of the hostile environment for those seeking sanctuary, that is so badly needed.

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Leyla Williams is Deputy Director at West London Welcome