SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon has said a plan from the British government to send refugees to Rwanda is inhumane and totally devoid of compassion.
Ms Mallon was speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the plan on Thursday.
It will involve refugees arriving in Britain being given a one-way ticket to Rwanda where they will then face an asylum process.
North Belfast Assembly candidate Ms Mallon said:
“Just when you thought the current British government couldn’t sink any lower they have once again outdone themselves. This plan to send refugees arriving in Britain to Rwanda is cruel and inhumane and shows zero compassion to people who are fleeing some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable, including war and persecution.
“Coming on the back of the Nationality and Borders Bill and their completely inadequate response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis it seems that this government is determined to make Britain a hostile environment for people in desperate need of help. Their actions have already done incredible harm to their reputation on the world stage and once again while other countries open their arms to help those seeking refuge, the British government are doing everything possible to prevent it, playing to the very worst instincts of their supporters in the process.
“Just last year the British government themselves expressed concern about Rwanda’s human rights record to the United Nations. They called for investigations into alleged killings, disappearances and torture and now they are apparently happy to send vulnerable people with no connection to the country there while their future is decided.
“The British government should hang their heads in shame for even proposing this plan in the first place and I can only hope that the outcry that followed this announcement will prompt them to change their minds. The entire SDLP team, led by our MPs at Westminster, will continue to oppose these proposals at every possible opportunity and hold this government to account for their heartless attitude towards vulnerable people in need.”