REFUGEES living in Scotland have said the Tory government’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda are “cruel” and would not put them off making the journey to the UK, despite its intentions.

Asylum rights campaigners remain on high alert despite the first scheduled flight being blocked on Tuesday night.

Home Secretary Priti Patel (below) said she was prepared to fight activists in the courts to push through the policy which the Tories insist will break the business model of criminal human trafficking and smuggling gangs.

The National:

But those who have experienced the UK’s asylum process first-hand say the policy will not prevent people from entering the UK.

READ MORE: Home Office's Rwanda flight GROUNDED – as FM Nicola Sturgeon issues warning 

Savan Qadir, 29, fled Iraq in 2015 and arrived in Britain in the back of a lorry before claiming asylum.

“The whole point of this policy is not to have any impact on people smuggling, it is instead terrorising asylum seekers and vulnerable people,” said Qadir, who now works as a journalist and a project manager for Refugees for Justice.

He added: “The Rwanda policy is inhumane, it’s cruel and it’s actually state-trafficking in some sense.

“[Traffickers] have disregard for humanity, for human rights – they are gangs. They don’t care what Priti Patel would do to people they forcefully sent to another country.

“People smugglers do not care either.”

The National:

Qadir (above), who now lives in Kilmarnock with his wife and son, argued the key reasons people came to the UK were because of the widespread use of English in the Middle East and Africa, both as a first and second language, and family ties.

People in countries fleeing oppression and life-threatening situations in foreign counties were also unlikely to have an accurate, up-to-date knowledge of the workings of British politics, meaning they may not even be aware of the political situation in the UK.

“People don’t know what is going on in the UK domestically, they don’t have Parliament Live in Iraq,” said Qadir.

“When you leave and you’re with smugglers, you don’t have devices and the smuggler doesn’t give you a menu to compare the domestic policy of this country for you to choose.”

While those who did hear of the policy might be made “sceptical” of travelling to Rwanda, Qadir said that “many of the people who come to the UK have no other options”.

“Your options and your decision make little difference,” he added.

“When your life is in danger, your option is always to leave because whatever the consequences of that, they will be less than dying.”

Around 150 people were rescued from the Channel attempting to reach Dover on Wednesday and the total numbers are such that sending to Rwanda all those who attempt the crossing is not possible, Qadir argued.

A woman who fled from Nigeria two years ago, arriving in Britain just before the first lockdown, said she was “optimistic” the policy would eventually fail but feared for her safety.

READ MORE: Israel's blockade of Gaza hits 15 years as Oxfam calls for action

The woman – who wished to remain anonymous – told how she was forced to flee her home in northern Nigeria, a region plagued by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

The National:

File photo taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, showing their leader Abubakar Shekau

A Christian and a university-educated woman, she feared she may be captured by Jihadists and forcibly married to a member of the group.

While she arrived in the UK on a rare legal route – she had a tourist visa for a conference which had not yet expired – she has still faced difficulty in having her claim processed

She said Home Office officials accused her of attempting to exploit the turmoil in her home country to gain access to Britain.

She said: “Right from when the policy was announced, a lot of people have come.

“So that is to tell you that it is not the issue of smugglers – these people are coming and running from something.

“They are looking for a way to hide they are looking for protection.”

The woman – who now has two offers to study nursing at two Scottish universities – said the policy was the “worst mistake” the UK Government had ever made.

The National:

Inflatable boats are towed into the marina after a group of people thought to be asylum seekers are brought in to Dover, Kent today/PA Media 

Usman Aslam, a specialist asylum lawyer with the firm Mukhtar & Co cast doubt on whether the policy would ever be enforced, but said concerned clients had been phoning him “constantly”.

He said: “From a legal perspective it is difficult to see how it could possibly work. If any of my clients receive further threats, I will be immediately quoting their own policy, the objective evidence available, and take the matter to the highest court in Scotland.”

He pointed out Rwanda already suffered delays in processing asylum claims and that the Government’s own report on the country noted that human rights abuses and attacks on LGBT people were rife.

“It identifies that LGBT communities live in fear and same-sex relationships are taboo in Rwanda,” Aslam added. “And they want to send human beings there?”

Pinar Aksu (below), the human rights and advocacy of the Maryhill Integration Network which has been supporting the woman and others, said: “The Nationality and Borders Act is a direct violation of human rights and international protection. 

The National:

“We strongly oppose the act and the proposal of offshore detention in Rwanda.

“We need to welcome people in our communities, have a dignified, fair and just immigration system based on human rights.”

Opponents of the policy point to the example of Australia, which sent migrants to Papua New Guinea until last year, amid concerns of high levels of suicide and self-harm among those detained abroad.