UK Home Secretary visits Rwanda to discuss controversial deportation scheme
March 18, 2023 at 11:44
CNN —British Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrived in Rwanda on Saturday to discuss a controversial agreement which will see the UK deport asylum seekers deemed to have arrived illegally to the African nation.
Before departing Braverman reaffirmed her commitment to the scheme, saying it would “act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys,” PA reported.
Braverman landed in Rwanda’s capital Kigali where she was greeted by the permanent secretary to Rwanda’s foreign ministry Clementine Mukeka, and the British high commissioner to Rwanda Omar Daair.
The visit comes 11 months after the UK government outlined its plan to send thousands of migrants considered to have entered the country illegally to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed.
The government insisted the program was aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous sea journey across the Channel to England from France.
The plan, which would see the UK pay Rwanda $145 million (£120 million) over the next five years, has faced backlash from NGOs, asylum seekers and a civil service trade union which questioned its legality, leading the government to delay its execution.
The UK government has made stopping migrants arriving in small boats on its shores a top priority.
The Illegal Migration Bill, which is being debated in Parliament, hands the government the right to deport anyone arriving illegally in the UK.
In many cases, there are no safe and legal routes into the UK, meaning many asylum seekers can only arrive illegally.
Instead, they will face immediate removal either to their country of origin, or a third country, like Rwanda.
The Rwandan government has indicated that it can only process 1,000 asylum seekers over the initial five-year period.
By contrast, 45,755 people are estimated to have arrived in the UK via small boats taken across the English Channel in 2022 alone.