Aisha Dodwell, the head of campaigns for the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales (CAFOD) has shown support for the UK’s Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that deemed the Home Office’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda as “unlawful.”
In an interview with Vatican News on Wednesday, Dodwell emphasised the moral and legal implications intertwined with this significant decision.
“The immediate reaction is that this is a good ruling,” Dodwell stated. “It shows us that not only is the government’s Rwanda plan immoral, it’s also unlawful and unworkable. Really, it’s time for the plan to be scrapped, and a new approach to migration needs to be thought through.”
A flawed premise
Dodwell shed light on the flawed premise underlying the Rwanda plan, highlighting its disregard for the fundamental right of individuals to claim asylum. She emphasised that the approach fails to address the perilous routes asylum seekers undertake while fleeing various crises, be it conflicts, consequences of climate change, poverty, or persecution
“These are people who are very vulnerable, taking great risks to reach safety,” Dodwell explained. “Our moral obligation is to provide safe routes for these individuals, recognising their humanity rather than treating them as political pawns.”
Each person, a name and a face
Drawing from the teachings of Pope Francis, Dodwell emphasised the importance of acknowledging migrants as individuals with names, faces, and stories. She stressed the need for governments to adopt a more humane approach, providing safe avenues for those seeking asylum rather than making their plight even more difficult.
With other European countries proposing similar bills to tackle the migration crises, such as Italy’s plans to send people to Albania, Aisha Dodwell said “The hope is that this ruling serves as a signal to other European countries considering similar bills, indicating that pushing people away is the wrong approach,” Dodwell articulated. “A focus on sustainable policies, regulated asylum systems, and ensuring safe routes is crucial.”
The Church’s role
Dodwell underscored the pivotal role of the Church in shaping public opinion on migration. She emphasised the moral imperative to alleviate suffering and highlighted Pope Francis’s advocacy for migrants’ rights on a global scale.
“In his encyclical Fratelli tutti, he emphasises that no one should be excluded based on their place of birth,” Dodwell stated. “We have a moral, legal, and historic duty” she added, reminding us of the historic exploitation that has contributed to the conditions people are fleeing from.
Dodwell went on to urge governments to heed Pope Francis’ appeal and embrace policies rooted in compassion and justice. She pointed out that the Church’s stance aligns with the aspiration to create fair opportunities for asylum seekers to build secure lives.
As the interview came to a close, Aisha Dodwell reiterated the necessity for countries to uphold their moral obligations and adopt policies that honour the dignity of every individual, emphasising the urgency to establish safe and just pathways for those seeking refuge.
- CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. It works with communities across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality (cafod.org.uk).