IG news Update,
Kigali, Rwanda –
The UK government said on Sunday it could start deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda in the next few months – but only if UK courts rule that the controversial policy is legal.
The Home Office said it aimed to start flights “before the summer”, as Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited the East African country to reinforce the Conservative government’s commitment to the scheme.
In Rwanda’s capital Kigali, he met President Paul Kagame and Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, toured housing for UK deportees and laid a brick on another housing development for migrants.
“I am delighted to see the rich opportunities this country can provide for people who migrate through our partnership,” Braverman said.
Biruta said Rwanda would provide the migrants “the opportunity to build new lives in a safe, secure place through housing, education and vocational training.”
The UK and Rwanda struck a deal about a year ago under which some migrants arriving in the UK in small boats would be sent to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed. Those granted asylum will remain in Rwanda rather than return to the UK.
The UK government argues that the policy will destroy the business model of people-smuggling gangs and prevent migrants from making the risky journey across the English Channel.
More than 45,000 people will arrive in the UK by boat in 2022, compared to 8,500 in 2020.
But the 140 million pound ($170 million) plan has been mired in legal challenges, and so far no one has been deported to Rwanda. In December, the High Court ruled that the policy was legal, but allowed a group of asylum seekers from countries including Iran, Iraq and Syria to appeal.
Human rights groups cite Rwanda’s poor human rights record, and argue that it is inhumane to send people more than 4,000 miles (6,400 km) to a country they do not want to live in.
The government has also drafted legislation to prevent anyone arriving in the UK on small boats or other unauthorized means from applying for asylum. If passed by Parliament, the Illegal Migration Bill would force the government to stop all such arrivals and deport them to their homeland or a “safe third country” such as Rwanda.
The UN refugee agency says the law violates the UK’s commitments under the International Refugee Convention.
Braverman faced criticism for inviting only selected media on his taxpayer-funded trip to Rwanda. Right-leaning journalists including The Times and The Telegraph newspapers and television channel GB News were invited, while the BBC and the left-leaning Guardian newspaper were not.