An Anglican archbishop has slammed the British government’s plan to send some asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda, claiming that “subcontracting out our responsibilities” to refugees will fail to pass God’s test.
In his Easter Sunday sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby took an unusually direct political intervention, saying there are “severe ethical problems about sending asylum-seekers away.”
“Subcontracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that strives to do well, like Rwanda,” he continued, “is the polar opposite of God’s character, who assumed accountability for our failures.”
While “the details are for politics and politicians,” Welby declared in Canterbury Cathedral in southeast England, “the idea must bear the judgment of God – and it cannot.”
Britain and Rwanda announced on Thursday that they had reached an agreement under which some people arriving in the United Kingdom as stowaways on trucks or small boats will be sent 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) to Rwanda, where their asylum claims will be processed and, if successful, they will be allowed to stay.
The idea, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conservative government, will deter individuals from attempting risky crossings of the English Channel and put people-smuggling gangs out of business.
Last year, more than 28,000 migrants crossed the English Channel, up from 8,500 in 2020. There have been dozens of deaths, including 27 in November when a single boat sank.
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