Deportation flights to Rwanda from the UK for asylum seekers could start as early as this summer, it has been reported.
Suella Braverman signed an update to the government’s migration agreement this week when she visited the Central African country where thousands of people could be transported next year.
The deal is said to expand its scope to “all categories of people passing through safe countries and making illegal and dangerous journeys into the UK,” according to Sky News.
A statement from the Home Office said it would allow the government to comply with its new Illegal Migration Act as it would mean that those who come to the UK illegally, who ‘cannot be returned to their country of origin’, will be ‘within the scope of being relocated to Rwanda’.
The Home Secretary welcomed the strengthening of the UK’s migration partnership by visiting the capital Kigali, where she met Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta.
The UK government plans to send tens of thousands of migrants more than 4,000 miles away to Rwanda as part of a £120m deal struck with Rwanda last year.
No one has made the journey yet, and one flight was grounded at the eleventh hour last year following an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden today the government wanted to ‘make cracks’ in sending migrants on a one-way trip.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: ‘The reason we have not been able to proceed with Rwanda is because it is currently before the courts.
‘Actually, we’ve had success at the High Court stage, it’s before the Court of Appeal.
‘But once that process is complete – and I’m confident our policy is legal – we will immediately break Rwandan policy and use it as a tool in our arsenal.’
Asked about the prospect of children being covered under the new immigration regime, Dowden said: ‘I don’t like any of this and I really wish we didn’t have to do this and the government is not running to do this. .
‘The government is doing this because this is a big problem.’
On Saturday, Mrs. Braverman and Dr. Biruta signed the updated memorandum of understanding, further expanding the partnership.
Highlighting the measures taken by the government, Ms. Braverman said: ‘What the bill does is dramatically and significantly reduce the available legal avenues – the claims available to people to prevent their removal or relocation from the UK.
‘To delay their arrest. To undermine our rules. And what we’re seeing right now is people using modern slavery claims, asylum claims, human rights laws… just to thwart our duty to control our borders.’
She continued: ‘Our bill corrects this and we have struck the right balance between justice on the one hand to provide a robust system of legal duties and powers to detain and remove, and compassion – so that we are relocating people to a safe country.
‘And as we’ve seen here in Rwanda, there are abundant resources to support and adequately accommodate people so that they can live safe and secure lives.’
During her visit to Rwanda, the Secretary of the Interior spent time meeting refugees who had settled in the country.
She was also given a tour of the newly built houses and accommodation units, which will be used to house the relocated in Rwanda.
A refugee living in Rwanda, Fesseha Teame, told reporters he “never felt considered a foreigner” but did not see the African nation as capable of receiving “many thousands” of migrants.
The 48-year-old, with a wife and four children, spoke to the media after the interior minister said: ‘Rwanda has the capacity to resettle many thousands of people and can provide accommodation quickly once flights start.’
Mrs. Braverman also said that the suggestion that Rwanda could only host 200 people is a “completely false narrative propagated by critics who want to cancel the deal”.
The quoted number was used by Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo when speaking to British journalists last year.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister announced a package that will include a new detention center established in France, as well as the deployment of more French personnel and improved technology to patrol the beaches in a shared effort to curb illegal migration.
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