Solace statement: Safety of Rwanda Act 2024, June 2024

The Trustees, staff and volunteers at Solace Surviving Exile and Persecution are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of the Illegal Migration Act and the Safety of Rwanda Act on individuals who use our services. 

We believe that the Acts are illogical because they will not address the aims the Government says they are being introduced for, and contradict basic legal concepts such as the right to seek safety in another country and the independence of the legal decision-making process.

Solace believes that everyone coming to the UK seeking safety has the right to have their story listened to, carefully considered and a thoughtful and timely decision made about whether they can stay in the UK. 

We absolutely oppose removing the opportunity to have a claim for asylum heard and properly considered. 

We are seeing a huge increase in fear and anxiety in people using our services because of the threat of being deported to Rwanda without even having their explanation of what has happened to them heard.  We believe that the lack of information about who, how many, and how people will be deported is a deliberate attempt to spread fear and generate hostility towards people in our communities who have fled from oppression and violence. 

We are deeply worried by the fact that despite there being tens of thousands of people in the UK who fall within the scope of having their claim for asylum deemed inadmissible and being subject to detention and deportation, there is no information about how this might be implemented and a refusal by the Government to answer questions about this.  As a result, people are left in legal limbo, fearful of being detained at any point.  Much has been made in the media about the small numbers of people who have been detained recently, and presented as if this is how the Safety of Rwanda Act will be implemented with very little mention that the number of detentions is a very small percentage of those who are within scope of the Act.  We oppose the use of immigration detention and call for people to be housed in communities where they can live with dignity.  

We have a growing concern about how the aim of “breaking up smuggling gangs” is used interchangeably with “deporting refugees to Rwanda” in discussions about the legislation.  The focus appears to be blaming individual refugees and punishing them, rather than talking about efforts made to stop the complex and illegal smuggling trade.  We ask that people in power, whether this is in politics, media or any other position of influence carefully consider the language they use, not mixing up terms such as migrant, refugee, smuggler, trafficker etc.  Instead they should focus their attention on positive ways to stop illegal people smuggling.  For example improving access to safe routes to the UK rather than blaming fearful individuals who feel their only option is to take risks of dealing with dangerous people smugglers.

Solace will continue to offer a place of welcome where people can recover from the traumas they have experienced in other countries, and continue to experience in the UK.  We want to see immigration policies which are carefully considered, have respect for the dignity of human beings and treat people justly and with compassion.