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Safety of Rwanda Bill - joint statement from medical organisations

Kamena Dorling
As representatives of medical humanitarian and healthcare organisations, we call on the government to urgently abandon its plans to push through its ‘Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill’, which risks exposing men, women, including pregnant women, and children to irreparable harm. The UK medical community has on multiple occasions condemned this approach, which would enable the forcible and permanent expulsion of people seeking safety in the UK, as unconscionable on medical and humanitarian grounds. It risks leaving vulnerable people, who are fleeing dangerous situations including torture and trafficking, subject to an environment where they are re-traumatised and unable to access the medical attention they may desperately need.

International examples of similar policies have led to wide-scale abuse and been found to cause catastrophic mental and physical harm. This is clearly evidenced than by Australia’s disastrous offshoring and indefinite detention policy on Manus Island and Nauru which resulted in a mental health epidemic amongst those asylum seekers and refugees expelled to the island, including high rates of self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Médecins Sans Frontières teams working on Nauru documented some of the worst mental health suffering they’d seen in the organisation’s 50 year history.

In the UK, Medical Justice clinicians have found that the prospect of removal to Rwanda has triggered fear, uncertainty and confusion and exacerbated the mental health conditions - including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression - of the men, women and age-disputed children threatened with removal, causing increased risks of self-harm and suicide. 

In light of the physical and mental harm that will result from forcibly expelling people seeking safety in the UK to Rwanda or anywhere outside the UK, the medical community opposes the principle of this approach on medical, ethical and humanitarian grounds. Rather than pursuing this inhumane and impractical proposal, the UK government must immediately abandon this plan and prioritise the development of a fair, humane and effective asylum system, which respects the fundamental rights, health and dignity of people seeking safety in the UK.  


  • Simon Tyler, Executive Director, Doctors of the World
  • Emma Ginn, Director, Medical Justice 
  • Kerry Smith, Chief Executive, Helen Bamber Foundation
  • Ros Bragg, Director, Maternity Action 
  • Dr Jan Wise, Chair of Medical Ethics Committee, The British Medical Association 
  • Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE, Registrar, Royal College of Psychiatrists.
  • Dr Ranee Thakar, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Sheila Sobrany, President of the Royal College of Nursing
  • Professor Kevin Fenton, President Faculty of Public Health
  • Professor Andrew Rowland, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health