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Priti Patel hits out at Archbishop of Canterbury for criticising Rwanda plan

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H

ome Secretary Priti Patel has urged critics to come up with their own solutions as she defended plans to send migrants to Rwanda.

In a joint article in The Times with Rwanda’s foreign minister, Ms Patel described the new scheme as “bold and innovative” after the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby criticised the scheme for being “ungodly”.

She also said it would put an end to the “deadly trade” of people smuggling and allow people fleeing persecution to reach safety.

But the controversial plans to send aslyum seekers to the east African nation have met with widespread criticism.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby became the latest figure to denounce the scheme

/ Getty Images

The plans would see some asylum seekers who enter the UK unlawfully will be transported to Rwanda where they can apply to settle. Those who are rejected by the Rwandan government will be deported.

Defending the plans, Ms Patel and Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta, wrote: “We are taking bold and innovative steps and it’s surprising that those institutions that criticise the plans fail to offer their own solutions.

“Allowing this suffering to continue is no longer an option for any humanitarian nation.”

Over the weekend, the Archbishop of Canterbury became the latest figure to denounce the scheme as he said it raised “serious ethical questions” during his Easter Sunday sermon.

Welby said the government was “subcontracting our responsibilities” and he said the plans cannot “stand the judgment of God”.

He was joined by the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell who said the policy was “depressing and distressing”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Archbishop of Canterbury was “mistaken”.

Speaking on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend programme, he said: “I think he misunderstands what the policy is trying to achieve, and that it isn’t an abandonment of responsibility, it is in fact a taking on of a very difficult responsibility.

“The problem that is being dealt with is that people are risking their lives in the hands of people traffickers, to get into this country illegally. Now, it’s not the illegal bit of it, it is the encouragement of people traffickers that needs to be stopped.”

It comes as more than 160 charities and campaign groups have denounced the plans, calling them “shamefully cruel” and urging for them to be axed.

The first migrants could be sent to Rwanda on a chartered flight as early as May

/ Getty Images

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the scheme as “unworkable” while the Liberal Democrats said the government was “slamming the door” in the face of refugees.

Many have pointed to concern over Rwanda’s human rights record after the UK raised allegations of extrajudicial killings and disspearances at the UN last year.

But Ms Patel, along with Mr Biruta, has insisted Rwanda ”ranks as one of the world’s safest countries” and has already accommodated 130,000 refugees from multiple countries.

The first migrants could be sent to Rwanda on a chartered flight as early as May but there may be delays with the government anticipating legal challenges against the partnership.

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