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'Love Thy Neighbour': Christian refugee charity leader urges PM to choose compassion over Rwanda bill

by Will Hobbs

The UK needs a more compassionate approach towards rising migration, according to a key Christian player in the Homes for Ukraine scheme, who's called on Rishi Sunak to enlist the help of local communities.

Krish Kandiah, a broadcaster and founder of The Sanctuary Foundation, told Premier the Rwanda bill, approved by MPs on Wednesday night, is "unworkable, unlawful and ethical and a colossal waste of time and money."

Asked what Christian advice he would offer if given two minutes with Rishi Sunak, Kandiah said he would urge the Prime Minister to:

  • Listen to the principles of loving your neighbour, of dignity and respect and kindness to all
  • We can help you - civil society can help you.  We have done it in the past
  • Find solutions that will actually treat people with dignity and respect

Kandiah told Premier he believed the government had done excellent work which led to migrants from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hong Kong receiving "an incredible welcome from churches".

But following the Supreme Court's ruling last year that Rwanda was not a safe place to send asylum seekers, Kandiah says he "cannot find common ground" with the government on the policy.

"It's unworkable. It's not going to stop people coming... people are coming because they are absolutely desperate. They're fleeing war and terror. It's unlawful [to deport them].

"We've overridden the Supreme Court, and told them that Rwanda IS a safe place, no matter what the evidence, which is just nuts.

"It's like just defining a two story house as a bungalow.  Just because you say it doesn't make it true."

Former Attorney General and Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, who's a Christian, told Premier that while he agrees the policy "was always a non-starter", politicians and Christians have to address the ethical debate at the heart of the issue, which he believes has been handled poorly.

"I have to say I find some of those issues quite difficult on a personal basis, because if we simply open our floodgates to anybody wanting to come into this country, I do think in the current state of our planet, our country and western Europe will be overwhelmed.

Grieve acknowledged that he finds his faith creates a conundrum on this issue: "Those of us who are professing to be Christians also have to recognise what is the Christians answer to this particular type of problem. And let's face it, historically, we've been hypocrites. We say we adhere to these wonderful principles, which says, if you're a genuine asylum seeker, we will give you refuge. But we make it as difficult as possible for anybody to actually get here and claim asylum."

"So here are some real ethical issues, and it would be nice to see them debated in that way. But rather curiously, governments prefer the hypocrisy and the sound bites. And let's face it, opposition parties prefer this as well rather than actually having a debate as to how we cope with this global phenomenon."

The Rwanda Bill will now pass to the House of Lords, who Grieve says are very likely to want to amend it and send it back to the Commons.  Even if it does become law, it's thought any attempt to put migrants on a Rwanda-bound plane will continue to face legal challenges from human rights campaigners.

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