Home » U.K. plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed

U.K. plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed

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The plan, referred to by the British government as an ‘economic development partnership,’ would see refugees arriving in UK flown to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed 

LONDON (AP) — The British government has struck a deal with Rwanda to send some asylum-seekers to the African country, a move that opposition politicians and refugee groups condemned as unworkable and inhumane.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel is due to announce details in Rwanda on Thursday of what the UK government is calling an “economic development partnership.”

Media reports say the government plan would see some single men who arrive in Britain from across the English Channel in small boats flown 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) to Rwanda while their asylum claims are processed.

Simon Hart, the government minister for Wales, said the arrangement would cost Britain about 120 million pounds ($158 million). He said the goal was to “break up” the business model of criminal people-smuggling gangs.

“[If] we have an arrangement with the Rwandan government for the proper and humane treatment of these people, then the criminal gangs will realize that their potential source of income will dry up,” Hart said.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee director at Amnesty International UK, said the government’s “shockingly ill-conceived idea will go far further in inflicting suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money.” He said Rwanda’s “dismal” human rights record made the idea even worse.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain, either by stowing away in trucks or on ferries, or — increasingly since the coronavirus pandemic shut down other routes in 2020 — in dinghies and other small boats typically organized by smugglers.

More than 28,000 people entered the UK on small boats last year, up from 8,500 in 2020 and just 300 in 2018. Dozens have died, including 27 people in the November capsizing of a single boat.

The British and French governments have worked for years to stop the cross-Channel journeys, without much success, often swapping accusations about who is to blame for the failure. Last year, the UK agreed to give France 54 million pounds ($74 million) to help fund a doubling of the number of police patrolling French beaches.

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