Who can be sent to Rwanda UK Asylum

Who can be sent to Rwanda UK Asylum

 The government’s guidance states (p. 12) that asylum applicants may be eligible for removal to Rwanda if the government determines that they were previously present in or had a connection to another country in which they could have claimed asylum, if their “journey to the UK can be described as having been dangerous”, and if they travelled on or after 1 January 2022. It states that a “dangerous journey is one able or likely to cause harm or injury. For example, this would include those that travel via small boat, or clandestinely in lorries.”

If people meet these criteria, then anyone, of any age, can be relocated, with two exceptions: Rwandan nationals, and unaccompanied asylum seeking children (known as UASC).

On 9 May 2022, the Home Office published its Equality Impact Assessment of the Rwanda policy, which gives details on who can be sent to Rwanda. The Equality Impact Assessment states that, “Excluding UASC, people of all ages are potentially eligible for relocation. At least initially, families with children will only be relocated voluntarily as part of family groups”. Thus, for the time being, children will not be sent to Rwanda on their own, and families will not be separated by sending only some family members to Rwanda but not others.

There are no exemptions for people based on disability, pregnancy status, sexuality, or gender re-assignment status. However, the document notes that, “An individualised assessment of suitability for relocation will be undertaken for each individual”, and that disability, maternity or pregnancy, sexuality, and gender-reassignment will be “taken into account” in any relocation decision.

Because of non-refoulement – the core Refugee Convention principle that forbids countries from returning people to territories where their life or freedom would be threatened – Rwandan nationals would not in principle be returned to Rwanda. In evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 11 May 2022, a Home Office official stated that, “The only preclusion on nationality to transfer is if you are Rwandan […] Any other nationality does.”

Early discussions of the Rwanda policy focused on young single men as its likely target group. For example, a BBC report suggested that the policy would “focus mainly on single men arriving in the UK illegally in small boats and lorries.” In his speech announcing the policy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that “around seven out of 10 of those arriving in small boats last year were men under 40, paying people smugglers to queue jump and taking up our capacity to help genuine women and child refugees”. The implication that asylum seekers being young and male means they are less likely to be ‘genuine’ refugees has been echoed by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who stated to Parliament in November 2021 that, “in the last 12 months alone, 70% of the individuals who have come to our country illegally via small boats are single men, who are effectively economic migrants. They are not genuine asylum seekers. These are the ones who are elbowing out the women and children, who are at risk and fleeing persecution.”

Government documents do not state that single men are an explicit focus of the policy. However, the Equality Impact Assessment notes that because large majorities of people arriving via small boat are both young (p. 6) and male (pp. 9–10) – in 2021, 75% of all small boat arrivals were adult males aged 18 to 39 – the policy is likely to disproportionately target young men.

The data for 2021 do not support the claim that young, male asylum seekers are not genuine refugees.  Although there are no data currently available on whether male asylum applicants in the UK are single or not, in 2021, of all initial decisions made by the Home Office on the asylum claims of male main applicants aged 18–29, 73% were successful (i.e., they resulted in a grant of asylum or other permission to stay).