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'A shameful moral failure': John Sentamu speaks out and claims government failed to consider climate risks in Rwanda deportation plans

by Marcus Jones

A former Archbishop of York has criticised government plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, claiming officials didn't consider the impact of climate change on those sent away.

Earlier today, a judge ruled the Home Office plans are lawful despite campaigners challenging the proposals.

The High Court did, however, say each case needs to be looked at individually.

The ruling comes as international development charity Christian Aid claimed that despite being aware of the damage climate change is doing in Rwanda and neighbouring countries, the government failed to assess its impact will have.

The group says if the Home Office had spoken to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office they would have discovered those being deported face flood risks, food insecurity as well as health risks related to “changing patterns of vector borne disease transmission and higher temperatures”.

Christian Aid has released a report highlighting the issue. In its forward, former Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said: “The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, recently described the vision of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda as her “dream” and “obsession”. This may be her dream but it is a nightmare for those refugees who have come to the UK seeking sanctuary from persecution. 

“The Government’s decision to deport refugees seeking asylum to Rwanda is abhorrent and has been widely criticised for being a dereliction of our human rights responsibilities. It’s clear to me this is the case and it’s a shameful moral failure by our Government that they seek to send vulnerable people to a country with numerous human rights concerns.

“As a proud African I have a great love for my continent but I’m also aware it faces many challenges, not least a climate crisis not of its own making.  Rwanda is going to become an increasingly inhospitable place in the coming decades due to climate change, as the Government’s own findings, and this report, shows. The fact that the Home Office hasn’t even done a risk assessment on the climate dangers posed to refugees it plans to deport there, reveals its lack of care and concern for their wellbeing.”

In a response to a freedom of information request regarding the deportation plans, a spokesperson from the Home Office told Christian Aid: “We have carried out a thorough search and we have established that the Home Office does not hold the information which you have requested relating to a specific risk assessment on the impact of climate change for relocated individuals transferred to Rwanda.”

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