Rwanda and missing migrant children

2 mins read

It would be no shock if Nicosia were secretly studying the UK plan for asylum seekers, sticking them on the plane and sending them 6,500 km away to Rwanda.

Britain’s half-baked approach to tackling irregular migrants crossing over the Channel in small boats is similar to Cyprus rolling out barbed wire and CCTV cameras on the Green Line.

After Brexit, the UK followed its own migration policy while the Nicosia government was busy sending a list of demands to Brussels for much-needed help.

The UNHCR called Britain shifting responsibility for migrants to Rwanda a breach of international law.

Cyprus has also been criticised for its ‘push back’ policy when migrant boats are spotted sailing toward its shores.

But its main bone of contention is its claim that Turkey is deliberately sending migrants from sub-Sahara Africa to the occupied north, knowing they will cross into the Republic.

Around 90% of Cyprus migrants enter the island through this route – which is why the government hired an Israeli firm to build a wall of deterrence.

As with most countries – if you are rich, white and Western- there is a welcome mat laid out, but the trap door is ready if you are black, poor and African.

Nicosia says it can’t cope with the sheer weight of numbers it has to deal with, estimating that 4% of the population is an asylum seeker when in the rest of the EU, it’s around 1%.

Meanwhile, Britain is paying about €150 mln for Rwanda to process single men who make the treacherous journey across the English Channel in rickety boats.

Their reward is a ticket to Rwanda for processing under this expensive outsourcing scheme.

There are expected to be legal challenges to this move which has appalled human rights activists and many UK MPs.

Israel has also tried to send refugees to Rwanda, but they just left and started the same journey to somewhere better all over again, defeating the object.

Britain argues it would save lives and smash the lucrative business model of people trafficking.

Ironically, last year Britain raised concerns about Rwanda’s human rights record, although Boris Johnson – known for telling the truth – described the country as one of the safest in the world.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the government argues it cannot cope with the influx of economic migrants, making it worse for those who actually need help and protection.

In the first three months of the year, Cyprus received 5,120 asylum applications compared to 12,600 last year.

Cyprus receives the highest number of asylum applicants per population than any other EU country; its crumbling infrastructure cannot cope.

The numbers don’t lie, and the authorities are ill-equipped to manage, but these people deserve to be treated with respect, not contempt.

A prevailing attitude lacks compassion and is tainted with racist overtones.

Reception centres are squalid and overcrowded, forcing even unaccompanied minors to escape the camp and sleep rough.

Little wonder that 11 unaccompanied minors have disappeared since 2019 with nobody able to find them.

These are lonely and scared children with nobody to look after them except the state, which allowed them to slip through the net.

If a Cypriot child went missing for more than five minutes, there would be a national emergency – a dozen black kids disappear, and nobody is looking for them.

And we know the last time the police couldn’t be bothered to look for missing foreign children – they ended up at the bottom of a lake in a suitcase.

Police say they have done everything to find these children; they have been so vocal about it that only now is the public hearing about it.

What does it say about us as a society if we can’t offer a safe space for the most vulnerable?

How is it possible these children just disappeared on an island where no Cypriot kids go missing?

Why isn’t the Interior Minister offering assurances that everything is being done to track these children down or any other government official explaining what happened?

This would not be the silent response if a Cypriot child suffered the same fate; we should be demanding more.

More importantly, the government has a duty of care to these children, but they have failed to protect them.

Maybe asylum seekers would be safer in Rwanda.