Journeys of Desperation: The New Export Commodity of Britain (Part 1)


Prof Hoosen Vawda – TRANSCEND Media Service

“Migrants Back to the Colony, with Love to Rwanda”

 “All of human evolution is hallmarked by mass migration crises, some are fortunate, others are not.[i]

At the back came the stragglers – the sick and the weak. Amongst them, we spotted a burly man called Azaat. He was carrying his elderly mother on his back – without pause, without complaint. I’ve seen so many captivating moments during my time covering this story – but I shall never forget witnessing the man who refused to leave his mother behind” – James Reynolds: BBC[1]

17 Jun 2022 – A Boeing 767[2], painted in white livery, operated by a Spanish charter company, Privilege Style, landed at the British Ministry of Defence test site, Boscombe Down on Tuesday, 14th June 2022, hours before it was scheduled to fly from Britain to Kigali in Rwanda as part of a 150 million British sterling pound deal made by the British Foreign Secretary, Ms Priti Patel and the Rwandan Government, represented by Foreign Minister Dr Vincent Biruta[3], a physician and politician, earlier this year.  This deal was to transfer undocumented asylum seekers to Rwanda, where they could be processed and then if approved, could come back to Britain as documented asylum seekers.

The plane was expected to take the first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda [4]at 21.30 hours GMT on 14th June from the Ministry of Defence, testing site in Wiltshire  Church leaders including Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said the Rwanda plan ‘shames Britain’. Boris Johnson has accused lawyers of ‘abetting the work of criminal gangs’ as he defended flagship policy. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss insisted flight would be leaving but could not say how many people will be on it. YouGov poll [5]found Brits were split over the policy, with 44 per cent supporting it and 40 per cent opposed.[6]  The defiant British ministers vowed that the flight will go ahead even if there is only one person on board.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel after signing the United kingdom-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership deal in Kigali on 14th April 2022[7]

It is ironic that a person of Indian origins, The Rt Honourable Home Secretary Ms Priti Patel was deployed all to way to Rwanda to conclude the deal and deport the asylum seekers to Rwanda, when the good lady herself had grandparents who were Indians from India. Her paternal grandparents were born in Gujarat, India, before emigrating to Uganda, and running a convenience store in Kampala.[8] In the 1960s, her parents emigrated to the United Kingdom and settled in Hertfordshire.[9] They established a chain of newsagents in London and the South East of England.[10] It is to be recalled that under Idi Amin, the Ugandan Asian were evacuated by the Empire and while in the past the Empire was occupying and exploiting the colonies, the colonies themselves are coming back to the Empire which is now deporting them back to the colonies.

It is also to be noted that Rwanda was the site of a genocide , and is the most populous country in Africa.  Presently, there is ongoing violence between the  Democratic Republic of Congo [11]and Rwanda, with cross border skirmishes.  It is alleged that the M23 militant group[12] which is causing the cross-border aggression in Congo is housed in Rwanda for this rebel group to attack Congo, an allegation which Rwanda vehemently denies.

Last week a Congolese soldier was shot by Rwanda border guards as he went on a cross border shooting rampage .  His returned body was treated like a war hero by the citizens of Congo, also a former Belgian Colony[13].  This is the place Britain has already paid 150 million British pounds to help create the infrastructure in Rwanda for the asylum seeker to be accommodated while awaiting their status.  The Rwandan deal and immigration control strategy is the brainchild of Ms Priti Patel , whose parents themselves emigrated to England, as business entrepreneurs.

It is important to review the background to the humanitarian crises which have been developing since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011[14], compounded by the war in Ukraine, since February 2022, that is presently unfolding and worsening in the peri-Mediterranean countries. The crisis is having a socio-humanitarian impact as far afield as North America, weakening social cohesion between the foreign nationals, arriving in their thousands into Europe, through Eastern Europe and surrounding states and the local citizens of the host countries.

In 2018, according to “Refugee Nation” website, currently there are 59.5 million displaced people in the world.[15] This figure included 19.5 million refugees (people who have fled their home country) and over 38 million internally displaced people (those who have fled their homes, but have not yet crossed an international border, a “refugee in their own country”). 86% of refugees end up in developing countries that are unable or unwilling to help them find a permanent home. However, in 2022 according to United Nations, the figure of refugees has risen to 100 million people, in a brief period of four years. The top seven host countries, by number of refugees camped inside their borders are:

  • Turkey
  • Pakistan
  • Lebanon
  • Iran
  • Ethiopia
  • Bangladesh
  • Eastern European countries

The numbers that describe this crisis are overwhelming and the current solutions being provided are hardly measuring up to any standard of scalable functioning for the displaced people around the world. The basic causes are conflict, persecution and other human rights violations, uprooting people from all walks of life and forcing them to leave their jobs, their schools, their homes, their families, and many times even their own countries. Refugees and displaced individuals come from 93 countries across the world. Half are children, and 9 out of 10 settle in developing countries, the least stable and viable place for them to find a solution to their plight. The majority are not only unemployed and live on less than $2 per day, but without citizenship they are often unable to apply for and find legal means of work, attend school, or marry the person they love. Very few refugees are ever even considered for resettlement.

Despite lofty goals, current management is a perpetual cycle of relief for the overwhelming majority of the displaced people. The current solutions are REACTIVE: The vast majority of money given and solutions put forward to address the challenges of refugees are in response to individual conflicts and crises in the world. They are RELIEF- BASED: Many refugees are able to access shelter, food, clean water, and receive basic medical care, but the long-term vision of rebuilding their lives is rarely an option. They are TEMPORARY: For the majority of displaced people, short term aid ends up being all they receive day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade, They are also LIMITED: Refugees are caught in a cycle of perpetual handouts without access to means of advancement, only a tiny fraction of affected refugees ever find a permanent home. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that “Six decades after its establishment, the plight of the world’s uprooted people still shows no sign of abating”.

The solutions should be PROACTIVE: Instead of reacting to the problem once a crisis occurs, what if there was a way to anticipate the magnitude and inevitability of displaced peoples and have a solution waiting for them? The solutions must be SUSTAINABLE: What if all displaced people were not only given the emergency relief they desperately need, but were quickly moved into the long-term rebuilding process? They should be PERMANENT: What if there was a solution that did not involve tents, capsising boats, and illegal immigration, but instead created permanence for the future from the outset? The solution must be UNIVERSAL: What if there was a solution that was available to every single refugee, and asylum seeker, regardless of race, age, religion, gender, location, and circumstance?

The World Refugee Day[16], observed on 20th  June is on the horizon, with very little being done for the plight of nearly 100 million refugees, worldwide. The prior inactivity by all the major religious leadership of the world, until His Holiness, Pope Francis emphatically appealed to the world, on 6th September 2015, at a Vatican service, that every Catholic family in Europe should adopt a refugee family, post migration, from their parent country, displaced by internal strife, oppression, human rights violations and curtailment of freedom accompanying the civil war in the middle east, principally Syria and Yemen. Not be to overlooked, the Palestinians, who have elected not to leave their historic motherland, the Burmese Rohingya minority and the Ukrainians suffering the civil war.

David Miliband, former Foreign Minister and President of International Rescue Committee has stated that “The world’s population has never been wealthier, healthier or more connected, yet the number of people displaced has never been higher”.[17]  There is a humanitarian crisis taking place in nearly every corner of the world. This crisis has been growing for many years, and finding a viable solution has never been more urgent. It is not climate change, or other well-publicized crises. This crisis does not receive the attention and response it deserves, because it primarily affects the world’s most powerless, needy and vulnerable people.

This is not only applicable to Syria, under the President Assad’s regime of brutal annihilation of ordinary citizens with vicious barrel bombs, but also to certain north African countries which have ended up as “failed states after the Arab Spring of 2011[18]”, whereby the local citizens, rose up in revolt against tyrannical dictators, in the hope of achieving democracy, only to be replaced by even greater oppressive regimes and a totally destabilised countries.

The following summary is based on reports extracted from reliable internet sources, however some of reports could not be verified and have to be understood in the context in which the comments are made by the author. Furthermore, the graphics are reproduced from pictures taken by international journalists and the author duly acknowledges their sterling contributions, often the pictures are taken under life threatening conditions in areas of conflict where these images are captured, for posterity. Some of the graphics may be disturbing to certain readers of this document and depict the war conditions as experienced by ordinary citizens of the countries suffering ongoing civil strife.

It is also important to raise the question as a preamble, as to what is occurring: is history is repeating itself? As a public sector medical and social outreach worker since 1977, my organization, The Community Health and Indigent Programme Services, a NPO, community outreach body has been proactive to overcome the prejudiced and unkind sentiments associated with Violence Against Foreign Immigrants (VAFI) in KwaZulu-Natal[19], South Africa since the initial surfacing of this multi-headed monster of xenophobia in our community. Therefore, the author is delighted that Faith Based Organisations have taken the initiative to overcome this fundamental human rights violation, unfolding in Europe. We, as South Africans, noting the constitutionally bound, “Rainbow Nation”, we espouse to be, need to be cognisant of the issues involved and discuss the matter.

Over the centuries, human suffering has resulted in communities being displaced and people electing to relocate themselves from the area of hardships, human suffering and possible death, to safer regions and countries. The author is of an opinion that as a collective gathering of humanoids, and as a background of humanity, the following needs to be revisited:-

1 – Paleontological [20] and prehistoric mass human migrations

This is the migration of early human race, based on nutritional needs, climate change, and natural, prehistoric predators, as formulated on hypotheses, as postulated by the late Emeritus Professor Phillip Tobias [21]and Professor Raymond Arthur Dart[22], studying the Cradle of Human Kind[23], a World Heritage Site in Sterkfontein[24]. Lime caves, in South Africa

Late, Emeritus Professor Phillip Valentine Tobias discussing human fossil finds in South Africa

2 – Biblical Refugee Crises

“And remember We delivered you from the people of the Pharaoh; they set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons and let your women-folk live; Therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord, and remember we divided the sea for you and saved you and drowned the Pharaoh’s people within your Sight”, The Exodus as quoted in the Quran: S 11 49-50[25], resulting in the first migration of refugees to the “Promised Land”.

3 – Medieval refugee migration crises

In the 13th  century, great hordes of Mongols invaded Eastern Europe [26]and cities like Zagreb, where thirty thousand townsfolk were beheaded in a single day by the invading Mongols resulted in mass displacement of populations. Further mass migrations resulted from medieval pandemics of smallpox [27]and plague[28] in present day United Kingdom and Europe. The invasion of Rome by barbarians is another example of such mass migrations and displaced populations, to such an extent that Constantinople[29] was formed as the new seat of the Holy Pope during these troubled times.

4 – Slavery and mass African migration[30]

Early Colonialism and enslavement of people of African origin resulted in mass displacements within the coastlines of East and West Africa, whereby local exodus inland far away from the clutches of colonial forces, mainly British, was achieved by tribes and communities relocating.

East African Slave traders with slave chains

5 – Colonialism and Sub-Saharan African historical migrations

Examples of these are the oppression and annihilations of the indigenous people of present-day Namibia by occupying German colonial forces[31]. The oppression of the Boers by British colonialist resulting in the Great Trek [32]and concentration camps akin to some of the present-day refugee camps. Migrations of great African tribes in Southern Africa by inter-tribal wars and factional dysharmony. The regional, forced relocation of the Khoi-San populations.[33]

The South African Great Trek of the White, Boer South African migrants from British tyranny

6 – Post World Wars Migration

Examples of these are The Armenian genocide [34]and relocation by the Ottoman Empire. The relocation of people of Hebrew origin, Roamers and Gypsies after the Holocaust[35] from Germany. The mass redistribution during the Bolshevik revolution and The Partition [36]based on religious grounds in India by the British in the Indian Subcontinent.

The Armenian Genocide 1915

7 – Forced human relocations based on racial divides

Examples of these are the relocations of people of colour by the apartheid government in South Africa. Relocation of North America Indians into reserves by United States and Canada. The relocation of New Zealand Maoris by the British in New Zealand, Chatham Islands and the Ukrainians in Canada in early 20th  Century.

8 – Contemporaneous human trafficking, post revolution migrations, refugee crises; “humanity washed ashore”

  • Syrian refugees
  • Yemenis
  • North African Migrants : Egyptians, Sudanese, Somalians and Libyans
  • Rohingya migrants from Myanmar
  • Central African migrations to South Africa from Rwanda, CAR and Cameroon
  • Genocides in Rwanda, Darfur and Sri Lanka during recent decades

9 – Deforestation, global climate change, natural disasters and human relocation

This is exemplified by the relocation of peoples of Amazonian[37] regions, the Inuits [38]of Iceland, the populations of Equatorial Africa, the forced encampment and herding of the malnourished Maoris due to extinction of the Dodo birds in New Zealand.[39]

It is to be noted that the common factor and root causes of these mass human migrations, over the centuries, are the persecutory oppressive regimes, human bondage, enslavement, suffering, destabilised governments by third force activities and “failed states” which, all, interestingly have caused the present day Mediterranean refugee crisis, analogous to the Exodus from Egypt, the major difference is that the present day refugees are mainly Muslims, while the striking similarity is that the Pharaonic oppressions were directed against peoples of the Prophet Moses[40], who introduced a monotheistic, new religion profoundly destabilising the tenets of the Pharaonic religion, culture and traditions.  Today we are experiencing international Islamophobia[41], while biblically it was “Mosesophobia[42]”, widely practised by the peoples of the Pharaoh.[43]

The Bottom Line to quote Priti Patel “is that people are dying and the global migration crisis requires new ways to find new partnerships and to find new solutions. It must eradicate the evil people smugglers, hence,  the Nationality and Borders Bill, and the New Plan for Immigration, the UK will support those fleeing oppression, persecution, and tyranny through safe and legal routes, while controlling our borders and deterring illegal entry”.  She continues that “Our world-leading migration and economic development partnership is a global first and will change the way we collectively tackle illegal migration through new, innovative, and world-leading solutions”.[44]

Is this what humanity has come to in the 21st Century, dictated by a person whose parents were migrants themselves?


[i] Original quote by the author June 2022















































Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.

Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Jun 2022.

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