image caption: Gurmukh Singh

Rwanda Deportation of Migrants Not the Solution

Over, 10,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year. The UK government scheme to fly asylum seekers 4,000 miles away to Rwanda for processing, has started a major public controversy. It has become clear that the agreement with Rwanda would see illegal immigrants flown one-way and not return to the UK. Those opposing include senior members of the Church of England.

The scheme announced in April this year continues to face legal challenges. Regardless of legal definitions, the assortment of migrants are asylum seekers, refugees and others seeking a better life in the UK. Prime Minister Johnson hopes that the Rwanda plan would be a considerable deterrent and break the business of the vile people smugglers who risk turning the Channel into a watery graveyard. However, refugee charities and lawyers doubt if this desperate move would stop gullible migrants from paying huge sums to criminals who pack them into unsafe boats to cross a perilous shipping lane.

The United Nations global estimate is that there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6 per cent of the global population. Nearly two thirds were labour migrants. Migration is a complex issue and UN experts caution that the problem can be exacerbated by misinformation and politicization.

Organisations such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirm that the problem of large scale migrations is a global challenge and needs global solutions. Refugee crisis results from large scale displacement of people from their original homes due to factors such as persecution, human rights violation, conflict and climate change. In recent decades, wars in Africa and Asia have recorded the highest number of refugees. Civil wars in countries such as Sysria, LiberiaBurundiSudanSierra Leon, Guinea have displaced millions.

In recent history, the Jews and the Sikhs have suffered and survived the worst refugee experiences. While Sikhs fleeing the Islamist extremism in Afghanistan continue to make headlines, during the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, around 3.4 million Sikhs and Hindus left their homes in West Pakistan to resettle in the post partition India. Most of these migrants were Sikhs. This was at a time when the total Sikh population in India was 6.86 million (1.9 percent of Indian population according to 1951 figures). So, Sikhs are no strangers to the experience of refugees.

According UN reports, people migrate from countries where there are violations of human rights, greed, and massive corruption, especially by those in authority&hellip.The people in power in a country with a corrupt government often accumulate wealth at the expense of others, grabbing property, and using their authority to murder the innocent. Those qualified do not get jobs due to nepotism. Those unable to defend their rights are exploited and forced to abandon their homelands and migrate by legal or illegal means to countries with better living conditions.

We need to bear in mind that most countries which create condition to make own people flee to other countries are also UN members. Therefore, global solution to the large scale migration crisis is unlikely in the short to middle term &ndash if at all.

In the meantime, lessons can be learnt from the historically persecuted but enterprising communities like the Sikhs: stay and fight injustice at home or migrate and settle successfully as net contributors to the economies of other countries.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant Retd