THERE has been so much news this week that the start of the passage of the Rwanda Bill through the House of Lords has been overshadowed. It faces a tight timetable just like it did in the House of Commons.

As Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, much of my time this week has been spent working on a draft report based on our legislative scrutiny of the bill, in time for it to be published before the parliamentary scrutiny of the bill is complete.

We’ve heard evidence from lawyers and stakeholders. The majority were very critical of the policy underlying the bill and believe it breaches the UK’s international treaty obligations, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention.

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Most of those in favour of the bill also accept that it breaches international law – they just don’t care. They would rather see international law rewritten or the United Kingdom withdrawing from its international obligations.

Some look to Australia and how it dealt with its refugee “problem” by off-shoring and pushbacks. The latter could never be adopted in the English Channel for safety reasons, moreover a lot of Australian politicians had reservations about the policy on human rights grounds.

On Tuesday morning, I had a breakfast Zoom call with the Australian Federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights. They are looking to expand their remit and to model themselves on how the UK committee works.

This is part of a wider inquiry which is also looking to pass a Human Rights Act directly incorporating Australia’s international human rights obligations into domestic federal law. It’s sobering to see the different direction of travel from the UK.

The problem of displaced people and refugees is a global problem that needs global solutions. According to the UNHCR, there are around 108 million displaced people in the world today. There are more than 35 million refugees and more than 62 million internally displaced people.

Between seven and eight out of 10 refugees stay in neighbouring countries. They don’t want to come to Europe. The idea put forward by successive home secretaries that they all want to come to the UK just doesn’t wash.

The UK Government needs to recognise that it is legitimate for some refugees to seek asylum in Europe under the UN convention and to share that responsibility with our European and Western counterparts and uphold the right for them to seek asylum.

That does not mean that the UK will be inundated. Of those who do come to Europe, far more apply for asylum in France, Germany and other European countries than in the UK.

The UK should be part of discussions to craft both global and Europe-wide solutions – not washing its hands of the problem and trying to export it to Africa.

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In evidence to my committee, the CEO of the Refugee Council in England, Enver Solomon, explained what a humane solution to the problem of the small boats might look like.

First, he said, it is vital to identify the criminal activity of people smugglers and to have an international joined-up intelligence and enforcement approach, in the same way that countries seek to tackle the illegal drugs trade.

Secondly, the UK must create more safe legal routes. If we don’t, people will continue to make dangerous journeys. Refugees come from many parts of the world, seeking to reach safety in Europe and the UK, and there is no safe passage, no safe route, for them to do that.

There is no mechanism such as the one whereby the Ukrainians had to apply for a visa to come to the UK.

The Refugee Council is advocating the piloting of a humanitarian visa, targeting countries where there are large numbers of refugees such as Iran, Syria, Eritrea or Afghanistan. The UK needs a mechanism whereby people could apply for a humanitarian visa to come here safely and then go into the asylum process.

Next, the UK needs to reach a bilateral agreement with the French, as we have done in the past. It should state that the British Government would provide safe passage for a specific number of people currently in France and wanting to come to the UK. It needs to be a shared arrangement that would allow people to come via safe passage as part of a responsibility-sharing agreement with the French.

Finally, the refugee crisis is a complex issue in the way that climate change is, and indeed climate change is exacerbating the problem and that means it will get worse before it gets better.

Those refugees who come to Europe are coming from countries where there is instability and human rights abuses.

Unless there is a collective global effort to create stability through conflict resolution and the promotion of rights in those countries, the number of refugees is unlikely to decrease. Likewise, the global effort to tackle the climate crisis is also vital.

The prime minister of Pakistan recently cited the UK Government’s Rwanda legislation as a justification for sending 450,000 Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan.

This is a stark illustration of how the UK’s international law-breaking and failure to shoulder its responsibilities will be exploited as an excuse for others to do the same.

The refugee crisis is an international one and can only be solved by international co-operation. The UK Government’s histrionic Rwanda policy is not helping. There is another way.