Plans to deport the first batch of refugees to Rwanda may have been halted temporarily, but the Conservative government will pursue this barbaric scheme to the end.
The sight of a charter plane, costing half a million pounds to hire, sitting empty on an airport runway may well be an appropriate metaphor for Boris Johnston’s administration but it doesn’t tell the full story.
Britain has legal and moral obligations to ensure the safety, welfare and human rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Flying them to an east African country with a dubious human rights record and with which they will have no connection is not only immoral it verges on the criminal. Given the Conservative party’s policy of privatisation and outsourcing public responsibilities it should, however, come as no surprise.
Despite the excellent work of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations in preventing the deportations thus far, there may soon be no legal grounds left to argue against this measure for those concerned
As part of the Rwanda plan a Nationality and Borders Bill, currently before parliament, proposes to remove the right to remain in the UK while an asylum claim or appeal is being processed.
If passed, the bill will allow the removal of refugees and asylum seekers to a ‘safe country’ while their claim is pending.
The pressure to reverse the dumping of refugees and asylum seekers in other countries must be maintained and increased. There is a particular responsibility on The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which has already publicly criticised the policy and also on the heads of Commonwealth countries who meet in Rwanda this week.
Refugees and asylum seekers are the casualties of imperialist wars, aggressions and rivalries. For that reason alone, they should be made welcome, protected and secure.
The UK government’s proposal to send migrants, who arrive in Britain without a permit, to Rwanda has been condemned as “cynical, callous and cruel”, by Workers Party candidate in East Belfast Eoin MacNeill.
£50 million in new funding has also been announced to pay for boats, aerial surveillance and military personnel to prevent those seeking asylum from attempting to cross the Channel in small boats.
“These proposals have been condemned by the United Nations refugee agency and refugee action groups”, Eoin said
“People who are the victims of war, interventions, oppression and exploitation by reactionary regimes have the right to seek a safer life in other countries. The UK government proposal deliberately ignores the causes of mass migration. It is importnag to expose the exploitative system which gives rise to mass migration and work unceasingly to end it”, he said.
“The UK and the European Union, together with their allies in the US and NATO, have created the conditions where people are forced to flee their own countries. War, poverty, exploitation and oppression have forced people to risk their lives and safety to seek a better life which they cannot achieve at home”, said Eoin.
“Fortress Europe”, with its closed borders, fences, quotas and prison camps is no solution. Refugees must be treated with dignity and compassion and with full respect for the Geneva Convention and international law”, Eoin argued.
“Those rights arising from refugee status and those seeking asylum must be recognised and respected for all nationalities and repressive measures against refugees must immediately cease”.
“Governments must provide decent and suitable facilities to ensure appropriate accommodation, medical care and documentation. These duties cannot be outsourced to third countries where refugees and asylum seekers will be faced with social, economic and language problems and exposed to the risk of exploitation and abuse”, Eoin warned.
It was a week which witnessed 27 more asylum seekers drown as they attempted to cross the English Channel, yet another report condemning the lack of progress on integrated education and further claims that childcare is in crisis.
In the first nine months of this year, almost 1400 migrants (men, women and children) died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. A further 1400 died similarly the year before.
Last week 27 asylum seekers from the middle east, north Africa and Afghanistan drowned when the dinghy they were in capsized in the English Channel. They too were fleeing the consequences of wars and conflicts prosecuted by western governments and the European Union
The influence of right-wing parties, particularly in Italy, France, Hungary and Britain along with the political line pursued by governments in the EU, has led to a vicious and irrational populism against immigrants irrespective of their circumstances. The cruelty of Fortress Europe is clear as yet again bodies are being washed up on beaches.
The blatantly racist narrative that we are being swamped by asylum seekers, migrants and refugees is simply not true. Last year the UK received just over 36,000 asylum seekers. France settled three times as many and Germany almost four times as many. Turkey is now home to more than seven million displaced persons.
The thousands of people seeking security, shelter and a new life in Europe are victims of the wars pursued by western governments in Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Libya. The criminal warmongering that has overthrown governments, destabilised countries and left thousands of innocent people dead or seriously injured now has its legacy in the trail of refugees forced to flee their homes. In turn, they fall prey to yet another criminal conspiracy in the form of human traffickers relieving them of their last resources in exchange for a place on an overcrowded dinghy.
These tragedies can be stopped. Not by patrol boats, repatriation, imprisonment or detention centres, but by governments accepting the consequences of their actions, facing up to the humanitarian crisis that they have created and by declaring that Refugees are Welcome.
While the long-term solution requires radical systemic change, that approach can contribute to putting the human traffickers out of business, ending the daily death and misery and give dignity and a future to the thousands of victims of war and aggression.
Read the Party’s submission to the European Communist Initiative this weekend:
Alarm bells rang last week over the crisis in childcare provision.
It would have been nice to think that it was because costs here are the second highest in Europe, that there are not enough places to cope with demand and that one third of local parents say that childcare costs are their largest monthly outgoing, exceeding their rent or mortgage. But no. Crisis has been reached because70% of childcare providers are reported to be making a loss or just breaking even.
The lack of available places and the cost of childcare remain major factors in discouraging women, in particular, from participating in the workforce. Many have no choice but to work reduced hours, enter casual employment or give up work altogether.
Socialist countries, like the German Democratic Republic, pioneered comprehensive childcare schemes as long ago as the 1940s and 50s.
We have a lot of catching up to do, and fast. The answer lies in publicly funded, affordable, flexible nursery and childcare services.
How many reports will it take to embarrass the Northern Ireland Assembly into implementing an integrated, and secular, education system?
Yet another, produced by Ulster University’s UNESCO Centre for Education, says that a lack of political will has left the divided system untouched and unchallenged.
The Assembly and Sinn Fein and the DUP, in particular, have done everything in their power to successfully side step their responsibilities on this. They have repeatedly ignored the requirements of the Good Friday Agreement, they have promoted diversionary strategies such as ‘shared’ education proposals but basically, they have blatantly and unashamedly turned their backs on integrated education.
It is very clear that the political and religious vested interests which keep children separated and contribute to the perpetuation of division in this society will not yield that power voluntarily.
It must be the task of all progressive forces, teachers, parents, educationalists and of everyone who understands the necessity for a fully integrated secular education system to maintain the pressure and continue to call out the Assembly for its contempt and derision of this fundamental building block.