The government hopes to be able to start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within “weeks”, according to Boris Johnson’s policy chief.
The UK government is trying to crack down on Channel crossings by small boats and as part of the plans, the Home Office signed a “world premiere” with Rwanda send migrants to this landlocked African country.
The Interior Ministry said on Thursday that the first people sent to Rwanda will be officially notified in the coming weeks, with the first flights taking place in the coming months.
Read more: First glimpse of the interior of the center which will welcome migrants from the Channel
However, Andrew Griffith, the director of No 10’s political unit, said it could be up and running in “weeks”.
“It doesn’t require new legislation, we believe we can do it within existing conventions,” he told Newsnight.
“Therefore, it should be able to be implemented and operational within a few weeks or months. We are ready to move in this direction.”
According to the Times, the Prime Minister wants the first flight to depart next month, with thousands displaced over the next few years.
A £120million ‘distraction’
Welsh secretary Simon Hart told Sky News the deal would initially cost the UK around £120m.
Priti Patel spoke at a press conference in Kigali on Thursday, confirming that the UK and Rwanda have signed the new partnership on migration and economic development to ‘end this deadly trade in human smuggling. Human being”.
She said the UK was making a “substantial investment” in Rwanda’s development through the move, which will improve the lives of people in the country.
“This is a global problem, with many countries struggling to address the challenges and the causes, and there is no single or simple solution,” the Home Secretary said.
She added that Rwanda “is a safe and secure country, respectful of the rule of law, and clearly endowed with a series of institutions that have evolved and developed over time”.
The deal has received a lot of criticismwith Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer describing it as a “pathetic distraction” from partygate and the Tory Reform Group calling it “bogus and irresponsible”.
Read more: Why are migrants sent to Rwanda and how will it work?
The Prime Minister defended the partnership and said: “It’s the morally right thing to do and the humane and compassionate thing to do.
“We cannot let people continue to die at sea, paying huge sums to evil trackers who simply exploit their hopes and ambitions.
“We have to encourage them to take the safe and legal route if they want to come to this country.”
View of Rwanda
The deal in Rwanda has also been criticizedthe National Opposition leader arguing that her country should not face a British migration backlog.
Victoire Ingabire told Sky News: “If our people don’t have enough to eat, if our children or the children of Rwanda don’t have the opportunity to go to school because of poverty, how can the government Rwandan will he give an education to the children of refugees?
However, some Rwandans who spoke to Sky News seemed supportive of the program.
“You can call them migrants or whatever, but they are just people,” Eric told Shingi Mararike in Kigali.
“We are all one human race.”
Rwanda’s human rights record questioned
Human rights groups condemned the move as inhumane, while others said it was unworkable and a waste of money.
According to Freedom House, a nonprofit organization funded by the US government, Rwanda has a poor record on political rights and civil liberties.
The organization’s 2022 Rwanda report says “children are internally trafficked for domestic service in abusive conditions”, with many working “informally in the agricultural sector”.
“Young Congolese and Burundian refugees are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and forced recruitment into armed groups linked to the Rwandan security forces,” he adds.
Mr Johnson admitted there would be legal challenges, but pledged to engage the ‘politically motivated lawyers’ to prevent the partnership being stopped in court.