The UN's refugee agency has urged the UK to refrain from transferring asylum seekers and irregular migrants to Rwanda for processing, saying London is abdicating responsibility.
The United Nations has said it stands firmly against Britain's deal to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel thousands of miles away to Rwanda.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, voiced on Thursday "strong opposition and concerns" about the agreement and urged London to refrain from transferring asylum seekers and irregular migrants to Rwanda for processing. The agency said people fleeing persecution should not be traded like commodities.
"UNHCR remains firmly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum seekers to third countries in the absence of sufficient safeguards and standards," Gillian Triggs, the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for protection, said in a statement.
"Such arrangements simply shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the refugee convention.
The British government is attempting to clamp down on the record numbers of people making the perilous Channel crossing from northeastern France in small inflatable boats.
The UNHCR urged both London and Kigali to "re-think" the plans and warned that instead of deterring people from making dangerous crossings, "these externalisation arrangements will only magnify risks" by causing irregular migrants to seek alternative routes.
READ MORE: Why are more refugees risking the dangerous journey on the English Channel?
"UNHCR believes that wealthier nations must show solidarity in supporting Rwanda and the refugees it already hosts, and not the other way around," the agency said.
The statement said Britain had an obligation to ensure access to asylum for everyone seeking protection.
"Those who are determined to be refugees can be integrated, while those who are not and have no other legal basis to stay can be returned in safety and dignity to their country of origin," it said.
"Instead, the UK is adopting arrangements that abdicate responsibility to others and thus threaten the international refugee protection regime, which has stood the test of time, and saved millions of lives over the decades."
The UNHCR said financial support abroad for particular refugee crises could not replace the obligation to receive asylum-seekers and protect refugees at home, "irrespective of race, nationality and mode of arrival".
The agency said developed countries host only a fraction of the world's refugees and were well resourced to manage claims for asylum "in a humane, fair and efficient manner".
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