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This blog was published 9/05/24 – it has been updated 15/05/24

We are horrified by the enactment of the so-called ‘Safety of Rwanda Act’, a piece of legislation that threatens the lives of people seeking sanctuary and undermines the core values of our society.  This cruel law endangers the safety of those seeking asylum and betrays our fundamental duty to offer protection to those fleeing persecution and violence. It is spreading fear among people who have already experienced so much, from the circumstances that forced them to flee their homes, their journeys here and in the hostile asylum system. 

Every individual should be able to seek safety and rebuild their lives without fear of arbitrary detention or forced removal. The Rwanda plan not only disregards the grave risks faced by people seeking asylum but also ignores the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring Rwanda unsafe for refugees. This is a violation of international law and erodes the UK’s commitment to justice and human rights. 

Outsourcing our asylum obligations to other nations is a betrayal of our responsibility to provide sanctuary to those in need. Instead of enacting cruel performative policy, the government must commit to a fair and functioning asylum system and provide safe routes to the UK. 

Let’s stand together in our communities to fight against these anti-refugee laws and to keep each other safe.  

What do you need to know about the Rwanda Plan?

Who might be affected? 

You may be at risk if you are an adult (over 18 years) and you:

1. You claimed asylum on or after 1 January 2022 and:

  • you came on a “dangerous” journey and passed through another country where you could have claimed asylum (for example, by coming on a small boat from France or a lorry from Belgium), and
  • you have not been granted refugee status in the UK. If your asylum claim has been admitted (for example, you have been invited to an interview or sent a questionnaire), you should not be at risk of being sent to Rwanda, unless the Home Office has new evidence to say they will not consider your claim (this is known as “inadmissibility” and is different to your claim being refused or withdrawn).
  • (see the Home Office guidance for this group here).

2. Your asylum claim has been refused, withdrawn or treated as withdrawn and you don’t have an ongoing claim or appeal (see the Home Office guidance for this group here).

The Government said they will not send children, family members of children in the UK, or Rwandans. They also cannot send people who show specific risks of serious and irreversible harm.

The Home Office can detain you and take you to an immigration detention centre before they can put you on a plane to Rwanda. The Government is planning the first flight some time in the summer. Before or after you are detained, the Home Office will send you:

  • a ‘notice of intent’ letter that you may be removed to a ‘safe third country’ including Rwanda
  • a decision that your asylum claim is ‘inadmissible,’ meaning they will not consider your asylum claim in the UK

You can challenge your detention and decision to deport you to Rwanda. See below for information and advice resources on what to do and who to contact if you need help. 

What you can do to stand against the Rwanda Plan?

1. Equip yourself with up-to-date and accurate information of what is happening and who might be affected. 

There is understandably a huge amount of fear amongst people seeking asylum right now. It is really important that people have access to the correct information about who might be affected by new legislation and they know what to do and where to get help. As people generally have their phone confiscated when they are detained, giving out printed leaflets and asking people to memorize numbers is the best way for them to have access to the information when they need it. 

  • Right to Remain have a briefing providing a comprehensive overview of the plan, who is at risk and steps people can take which will continue to be updated.
  • JCWI Explainer: This document explains about the Rwanda Act, what to do and who to contact if you might be sent to Rwanda and actions you can take to join the fight against the Rwanda plan
  • Migrants Organise have collated a list of resources to share, including information sheets and flyers.
  • Care4Calais have created an information sheet about Notice of Intent letters which is translated into different languages: 
  • Action Against Detention and Deportation have a flyer with legal support information: 

2. Raise your voice

3. Tell airlines not to participate in deportations.

Freedom from Torture have created a super simple form you can fill out to contact airlines!

4. Call on your MP to repeal the Rwanda act and to stand up for refugee rights.  

You can email your MP here. Here are some tips about how best to go about contacting your MP  

Asylum Matters has also produced some really helpful guidance you can use in the run up to the General Election to call on candidates to defend the right to seek safety.

5. Learn what to do in an immigration raid and find your local anti-raids network

Anti-raids networks play a really important role in providing community resistance to detention and deportations. Right to Remain and the Anti-Raids Network have created this useful resource explaining what immigration raids are and how you can help. You can find your local anti-raids group here.

5. Join the movement

Show people seeking sanctuary that they are welcome. Find people who are creating change in your local community. If you’re a student, join or set up a STAR group. If you aren’t a student you can join your local City of Sanctuary group or support local refugee and migrant organisations and solidarity groups. 

5. Don’t give up.

If you feel scared and disheartened, you are not alone. But it’s more important than ever for all of us to work together and keep fighting for a fairer future. Talk to friends and family, take time to look after yourself, and remember that change is possible. 

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