14 April 2022
Response to the Government’s plans to offshore asylum seekers in Rwanda
The Government’s plans to offshore asylum seekers in Rwanda gives yet another insight into its hostile, uncompassionate and ineffective response to asylum seekers and refugees.
People are not a problem to be dealt with, but are individuals with inherent value and dignity made in the image of God. Sending some of the most vulnerable people in the world thousands of miles away to be imprisoned does not respect this dignity.
The factors which push people out of their homes and into displacement will always be much stronger than those which motivate them to claim asylum in a certain place. As we have seen in Ukraine, conflict and persecution can become a daily reality at a distressingly rapid pace.
Whilst it is important to address the dangerous trade of people smuggling across the channel, the lack of safe and accessible routes by which people can claim asylum in the UK will ultimately contribute significantly to increased small boat crossings. The government have shied away from committing to a resettlement target, and the Nationality and Borders Bill lacks detail of new or expanded resettlement routes. Now, the government is passing the issue onto another country, which the UK has previously criticised for holding a poor record on human rights.
Offshore processing is a distraction from the real work which needs to be done to establish workable, safe and welcoming routes through which the UK can play its part in responding to need.
We urge the government to reconsider their approach, and accept proposed amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill to uphold a practice of welcome.
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, The Revd Sonia Hicks and Barbara Easton
Our colleagues at the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) are encouraging people to write to their MP this weekend to encourage them to support amendments tabled by the Lords (including rejecting offshoring) – template letters can be found here
A Prayer for our lawmakers
O God, who holds the nations in loving hands, we pray for British Parliamentarians as they hold the futures of asylum seekers and refugees in their hands. We pray O God, for new laws to be just and fair, to be compassionate and life enhancing. We pray for those who will debate, table amendments and vote on the Nationality and Borders Bill. May your love, O God, reign in their hearts. May they see beyond short term populism and grasp the common humanity that we all possess. May your Holy Spirit inspire us as we campaign against any government initiative which seeks to override the fact that we are all made in Your image. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray.