Migrants are picked up off the coast of Dover by UK Border Force boat  (AFP or licensors)

By Vatican News staff reporter

Apr 22 2022

The Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales, Bishop Paul McAleenan criticizes the UK government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

In a statement released on Thursday, Bishop Paul McAleenan argues that despite presenting this new move to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda “as a humanitarian need to combat trafficking, this scheme will compound the difficulties of those arriving in Britain hoping for a new beginning.”

Helping those in need

He says, “The actions of the people of this country show that they wish to lift up those in need, decisions of the government should do likewise.”

Bishop McAleenan also recalls a memorial plaque on the promenade in Dover, in the south of England, honouring those who died at sea seeking refuge, which reads, “Every migrant has a name, a face, a story.”

“This should be our starting point,” the bishop underlines. “We need to make it convenient for them to tell their story [their Asylum claim] remembering we are dealing with individuals made in God’s image who have endured great hardships in their own country and on their travels.”

Need to address core problems

Under a new set of immigration policies announced by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, tens of thousands of unauthorized migrants who arrive in the UK will be sent to Rwanda.

Justifying the plan, Mr. Johnson said it was needed to “save countless lives” from human trafficking by smashing the business model of traffickers.

But Bishop McAleenan stresses that the “UK Government and the whole international community, motivated by the desire to uphold the dignity of human life, need to address the problems which cause people to flee their homes.”

Look to Christian values

This controversial scheme has also come under fire from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said in his Easter sermon there are “ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas.”

The leader of the Anglican Church also stressed that as a country formed by Christian values, “sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God.” -Vatican News