Denmark begins talks with Rwanda to set up a migrant scheme like Britain’s
- Denmark last year passed law allowing asylum seekers to be sent overseas, but has yet to announce a partner country for the scheme
- Immigration minister said today he is now in talks with Rwanda about partnering
- Comes after UK government announced similar resettlement scheme last week
- Britain’s plans have been branded ‘ungodly’ by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Denmark is in talks with Rwanda about setting up a scheme to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda in a copy-cat of the one announced by Britain last week.
The country passed a law last year allowing refugees arriving on its soil to be sent elsewhere, but had yet to find a partner nation to run it.
Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said Wednesday that he is in talks with Rwanda about partnering on the scheme, in the wake of the UK’s announcement.
Pictured: Migrants, mainly from Syria and Iraq, walk at the E45 freeway from Padborg, on the Danish-German border, heading north to try to get to Sweden on September 9, 2015 (file photo). Millions of migrants fled the middle east into Europe after conflict broke out in Syria
‘Our dialogue with the Rwandan government includes a mechanism for the transfer of asylum seekers,’ he told Reuters.
The deal aims to ‘ensure a more dignified approach than the network of human traffickers that characterises migration in the Mediterranean today,’ he added.
Denmark has not yet struck a deal with Rwanda, the minister said, but a high-level meeting on the issue will take place on Thursday next week.
It comes after the UK government last week announced plan to send so-called ‘Channel Migrants’ arriving on dinghies across the English Channel to Rwanda.
Details of the scheme are sparse, but the government has said any person arriving in the UK could be sent offshore depending on the ‘strength of their claim’ and their method of arrival.
Once sent to Rwanda, they will be subject to the immigration laws of that country and would have no automatic right to return to Britain.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said ‘tens of thousands’ of people could be resettled ‘in the years ahead’, but has not put a figure on how many the government plans to send or how much the scheme will cost.
Britain will initially pay £120million as part of an ‘economic transformation and integration fund’, but will also be responsible for the running costs of the scheme.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has called the plan ‘bold and innovative’ but critics say it is ethically unsound and financially irresponsible at a time of high borrowing. Justin Whelby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has gone so far as to call it ‘ungodly’.
That prompted an angry response from Ms Patel, who challenged him to come up with a better idea instead of nay-saying.
‘The UK and Rwanda stand together in their efforts towards promoting a new, fairer and more effective global asylum system… she wrote in a open letter alongside Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta..
‘Allowing this suffering to continue is no longer an option for any humanitarian nation.’
Meanwhile Denmark has gained a reputation for its increasingly hardline policies on migration in recent years, which includes a plan to send Syrians who fled the country’s civil war back home, which began in 2019.
The Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured today) blasted the government’s Rwanda plan for asylum seekers as the ‘opposite of the nature of God’
Human rights groups, the UN and the EU have all expressed dismay over the move, which has seen hundreds of Syrians stripped of their residency permits and placed into ‘return centres’.
Denmark has not yet begun deporting the estimated 400 people in such centres, but those who are housed there cannot work, study, or cook their own meals.
While they can leave the centres, they are not allowed to remain in Denmark. It is estimated that hundreds have left the country to seek refuge elsewhere in Europe.
The government has come under pressure to return residency to those housed in the centres, saying they face torture, arbitrary detention, kidnap and sexual violence if they are returned home.
Many of those who fled Syria during the war were opponents of dictator Bashar al-Assad, who now rules the country after Vladimir Putin helped him regain control.
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