Rwanda’s Anglican Archbishop has defended the UK government’s plans to send asylum seekers to the African nation.
It’s after the first flight taking seven asylum seekers to Rwanda was cancelled this week following a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.
The policy has sparked criticism among church leaders in the UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury who has called it “ungodly”.
On Saturday Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church of England opposes the policy because “it outsources our responsibilities and treats vulnerable and traumatised people without any kind of dignity, compassion or justice” and it is “not how God calls us to treat each other”.
But Most Rev Archbishop Laurent Mbanda told the BBC the policy is not immoral and said the country is ready to welcome people needing a home.
For the 67-year-old head of the Anglican Church in Rwanda, the policy will help alleviate the global immigration crisis. He said dealing with those fleeing conflict should be a burden shared among countries.
Britain has made a five-year deal with Rwanda, making the African nation responsible for some of the asylum seekers arriving to the UK.
Under the new policy, those sent to Rwanda will be accommodated and supported in the country while their claim is processed. If permanent refugee status is granted, they will remain in Rwanda.
If rejected, they will be able to apply for other immigration routes but could face deportation.
This is not the first time Rwanda’s Anglican Archbishop has disagreed with other members of the Anglican Communion.
Earlier this month, Archbishop Laurent rejected Archbishop Justin’s invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference this summer over Biblical interpretations of sexual identity.
Together with the Archbishop of Nigeria and Uganda, the cleric said they won’t join “the multitudes to do evil”.
Archbishop Laurent told the BBC he believed it is time for the African churches belonging to the Anglican Communion to challenge their mother church instead of waiting for the Archbishop of Canterbury telling them what to do.
The legality of the Rwanda policy will be tested in a court hearing next month.