Ipswich MP Tom Hunt backs government's plans to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda

Migrants at Dover

The proposal to send male asylum-seekers to refugee centres in Rwanda is aimed at reducing the number who try to cross the English Channel. - Credit: PA

Ipswich MP and Conservative committee chairman Tom Hunt has welcomed the government's proposals to transfer some asylum-seekers to Rwanda to process their applications for refugee status from there.

Mr Hunt is chair of the Home Affairs Committee of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs and said many would back the proposal which is aimed at deterring asylum seekers from attempting to cross the English Channel.

However, the move has been criticised as "unworkable, cruel and inhumane" by Suffolk Refugee Support.

Mr Hunt said: "I am very confident the vast majority of Conservative MPs will welcome what was announced today. With over 600 people risking their lives by crossing the channel on Wednesday, this is much-wanted news.

"Figures from last year showed over 20,000 more individuals crossed compared with 2020, and the Prime Minister pointed out today that 70% of those who come over illegally are young men.

"Each one of these crossings is supporting a diabolical trade, fuelled by criminal gangs that does not seem to be slowing down. These steps from the Government today are a big step in the right direction and will place a much-needed deterrence on these crossings.

"I have long called for offshore processing since my election in 2019. I firmly believe it is the only way to effectively deter these small boat crossings that so very often result in the tragic loss of life."

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A spokesman for Suffolk Refugee Support said: "At a time when more people than ever before have been forced from their homes around the world, and the British public are showing such incredible compassion towards Ukrainian refugees, we think the government's plan to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda is unworkable, cruel and inhumane.

"It would also be hugely expensive. With two-thirds of asylum seekers arriving here proven to have a genuine need for protection, it is simply wrong to treat victims of war, violence, conflict and persecution in this way.

"Last year there were less than 50,000 asylum applications in the UK - France had 105,000 and Germany 190,000, while Poland has taken in more than 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees in the last six weeks.

"At Suffolk Refugee Support, the majority of the people we have supported over the past 23 years were forced to enter the UK through clandestine routes. Today, they are our friends and colleagues, they are British citizens, doctors and local business owners."