Asylum seekers: Sheffield MP urges government to scrap ‘cruel gimmick’ Rwanda plan – with video

Sheffield MP Olivia Blake has called on the government to scrap the Rwanda Plan to deport asylum seekers, calling it a ‘cruel gimmick’.
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The Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam called on the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to scrap the Rwanda Plan and implement safe and legal routes for asylum seekers. She spoke after meeting Together With Refugees, a coalition of more than 500 national and local organisations representing refugees, who visited Parliament to share their experiences of the asylum system and call for an end to the Rwanda Plan.

During Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (Wednesday, January 25), Olivia Blake, who is the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, said: “From Rwanda to deaths in the Channel, and the latest scandal of missing children, refugees and campaigners are today gathered outside Parliament to highlight the impact of the hostile environment on people in the migration and asylum system.

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“Rather than cruel gimmicks like Rwanda, isn’t the best way of deterring Channel crossings, saving lives and “breaking the “business model” of criminal gangs, to introduce safe and legal routes to claim asylum?”

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake, second right, in Westminster with members of Together with Refugees, a coalition of refugee and asylum seeker organisations calling for the Rwanda Plan to deport asylum seekers to be scrappedSheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake, second right, in Westminster with members of Together with Refugees, a coalition of refugee and asylum seeker organisations calling for the Rwanda Plan to deport asylum seekers to be scrapped
Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake, second right, in Westminster with members of Together with Refugees, a coalition of refugee and asylum seeker organisations calling for the Rwanda Plan to deport asylum seekers to be scrapped

A survey carried out by refugee crisis charity Care4Calais released this week by Together With Refugees found that most asylum seekers threatened with deportation to Rwanda are from countries where more than 80% of people have had their refugee status recognised by the UK. Nearly half of asylum seekers facing removal to Rwanda are married and a fifth have children.

During an urgent question on Tuesday on the disappearance of 200 child refugees, Ms Blake questioned Home Office Minister Steve Barclay on whether adequate resources were being provided to local authorities to end the use of hotels for children.

Whistleblower

Home Office Minister Simon Murray admitted the figure to the House of Lords following a report in the Observer newspaper that a whistleblower from a Home Office hotel in Brighton had claimed that some children had been abducted off the street outside the facility and bundled into cars.

Sheffield MP Olivia Blake is calling for safe, legal routes for asylum seekers to reach the UKSheffield MP Olivia Blake is calling for safe, legal routes for asylum seekers to reach the UK
Sheffield MP Olivia Blake is calling for safe, legal routes for asylum seekers to reach the UK
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Mr Murray was responding to a question from Liberal Democrat peer Paul Scriven, former leader of Sheffield City Council. He said the government was hoping to phase out the use of hotels “as soon as we can”.

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Ms Blake said: “Does the Minister realise that for a local government placement, the average cost is nearly £5,000 per week. So £65,000 both of the £50,000 and the 15 [additionally added] that he said, would only cover up to 13 weeks. Now that’s if they’re lucky enough to have a local authority placement.

“If they are to have to go to private sector, it is up to £20,000 per week, which means that you would only get a coverage of three and a quarter weeks from the money that has been provided.

Safeguarding responsibility

“Will the Minister meet urgently with officials in the Department of Levelling Up and Housing to urgently come up with a solution that will work for these children so that everyone can take their safeguarding responsibility seriously, and we see no more children going missing?”

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To read the Care4Calais survey results, go to https://care4calais.org/news/rwanda-plan-new-analysis/