#StopRwanda : Our letter to Parliament opposing the ‘Safety of Rwanda’ Bill

Published 12th March 2024

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 of Doctors of the World UK, said 

“As medical and humanitarian organisations, we are calling on the Government for a change of approach. Our doctors are seeing people who arrive in this country in real need of safety, and in some cases medical attention. They have experienced war, abuse, violence or torture and endured the most terrible hardship on their way here. As a country, we are capable of providing a humane and well organised response. Health can start here, not in Rwanda.”


  • Simon Tyler, Executive Director, Doctors of the World
  • Professor Andrew Rowland, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Officer for Child Protection  
  • Dr Jan Wise, Chair of Medical Ethics Committee,The British Medical Association 
  • Gill Walton CBE, CEO & General Secretary of Royal College of Midwives
  • 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
  • Emma Ginn, Director of Medical Justice 
  • Kerry Smith, Chief Executive, Helen Bamber Foundation
  • Ros Bragg, Director of Maternity Action

With your support, Doctors of the World will make sure nobody suffers or dies due to lack of access to healthcare.