Protesters gathered on Monday, December 18, outside the UK Home Office in London to denounce the government’s immigration policies, including its Rwanda asylum plan.

The relocation initiative, introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, aims to process and potentially resettle asylum seekers in Rwanda as a deterrent for those attempting to cross the English Channel in small boats. Despite legal challenges causing repeated delays, no asylum seekers have been sent from the UK under this scheme.

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the speakers who addressed the crowd.

“The protest here is in support of people’s right to seek asylum in our society. And it’s also condemning the government for pushing legislation through Parliament to try and get around a Supreme Court judgment, which is saying the removal of people to Rwanda is illegal.”

On December 12, the UK House of Commons voted 313-269 to approve the government’s Rwanda bill in principle, sending it for further scrutiny. The bill sought to overcome a ruling by the UK Supreme Court that the plan to send migrants who reach Britain across the English Channel in boats to Rwanda, where they would stay permanently, is illegal.

The bill is the result of a new deal signed on December 5 by Rwanda and the UK.

The protest, titled “Stop the hate,” was organized by various groups, including Stand Up to Racism and Care4Calais, and coincided with Migrants Day.

Namibian activist Florence Handura, who immigrated to the UK, recounted why she fled her country:

“I was stabbed with a knife (in Namibia). At another point again, I was also beaten up. Because I’m an activist in Namibia, I used to stand up for my people under the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation.”

The London protest, along with concurrent demonstrations worldwide, signifies a growing global movement seeking to influence government action on the treatment of migrants. These events amplify the voices of those affected by migration policies, reminding us that behind every policy decision, there are human lives and stories at stake.

Piers Potter


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