Council call for end to Rwanda policy by government
West Berkshire Council is to write to the Government about the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.
The Government says that the stated purpose of the scheme is to deter those from arriving in the UK by ‘illegal, dangerous or unnecessary methods’ such as by ‘small boat’.
In a motion submitted by former councillor Steve Masters 18 months ago, it agreed to request an end to the proposed offshoring of people seeking refuge to third countries and to demand an end to the deal with Rwanda.
Furthermore it agreed to support where it can to ensure that all refugees are treated with dignity and given the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the economy and cultural life of West Berkshire.
The motion said West Berkshire has a creditable record when it comes to welcoming refugees from across the globe – from as far back as the Ugandan expulsions and families fleeing the Balkan conflict, as well as Syrians, Hong Kong residents and Afghan nationals in recent years.
It asked the council to note the outpouring of support and compassion from the people of West Berkshire for individuals and families displaced by the war in Ukraine.
West Berkshire Council has been engaged with a range of migration schemes.
Over the last few years these have included those arriving from Syria, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine.
It has also supported those living in the two Home Office asylum facilities in West Berkshire.
In August 2021 the evacuation of Afghanistan led to many thousands of Afghans arriving in the UK under the Afghan resettlement scheme.
For two years West Berkshire was host to a hotel providing temporary accommodation to Afghan individuals and families.
In February 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine.
In response the Government set up the Homes for Ukraine scheme where Ukrainian nationals supported by sponsors in the UK could apply for visas lasting for an initial three years.
Locally in West Berkshire the council has supported more than 600 Ukrainian arrivals along with more than 250 hosts. This has included around 200 children.
For over two years two asylum facilities have operated from two local hotels in West Berkshire.
Although the primary support has come from voluntarily sector partners , the council has also provided support through children’s services, Public Health, Public Protection, emergency planning and housing services.