Britain’s Conservative government wants to prevent migrants from reaching the UK through risky journeys across the English Channel, and a deportation deal signed with Rwanda last year was part of measures designed to deter the arrivals. More than 45,000 people arrived in Britain by boat in 2022, compared to 8,500 in 2020.
Under the plans, some migrants arriving in the UK in small boats would be flown to Rwanda where their asylum applications would be processed. Those granted asylum would remain in the African country rather than return to Britain.
But the £140 million ($170 million) plan is mired in legal challenges and no one has yet been sent to Rwanda. The UK was forced to cancel its first deportation flight at the last minute in June after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the plan carried “a real risk of irreversible harm”.
Human rights groups cite Rwanda’s poor human rights record and argue that it is inhumane to send people more than 4,000 miles to a country where they do not want to live.
Earlier this week, a group of asylum seekers from countries including Iran, Iraq and Syria were allowed to appeal the British government’s decision to relocate them.
Braverman defended the plan, saying it will “support people to rebuild their lives in a new country” and boost the Rwandan economy by investing in jobs and skills.
She is expected to meet President Paul Kagame and her counterpart, Vincent Biruta, to discuss the details of the deportation deal.
Sonya Sceats, chief executive at the nonprofit organization Freedom from Torture, described the policy as a “money-for-people” plan.
“Instead of pushing through this inhumane and unworkable policy, ministers should focus on establishing safe routes to the UK and tackling the unacceptable backlog of asylum applications, so that people fleeing war and persecution can rebuild life with dignity,” she said.
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