Home Secretary Priti Patel – who signed the deal with Rwanda to take on asylum seekers – announced the move this evening (Monday). It comes after she travelled to Kigali, the African nation’s capital, to seal the agreement last month.
The first flights are expected to take place in the coming months, the Home Office said.
It added that it expected there to be legal claims lodged against it to attempt to stop the migrants’ removal from the UK.
The Home Office noted that the Government “has the power to detain individuals pending their removal from the UK”.
The controversial Rwanda agreement is already said to be facing a number of legal challenges over its lawfulness, with several pre-action letters being sent to the Government department.
Campaigners have drawn attention to Rwanda’s record on human rights, fearing that the migrants who are sent there may face fresh dangers after escaping those in their homeland.
A Government assessment of the scheme’s adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights, released today, found that there were no “substantial grounds” to believe relocated migrants “would face a real risk of being subjected to treatment” contrary to their rights as asylum seekers.
The Government struck the deal as part of its response to a wave of asylum seekers making the perilous English Channel crossing to seek refuge in the UK.
The initial agreement included the provisions for 4,000 migrants to be sent to Rwanda, in exchange for an initial funding package of £120million.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said as many as tens of thousands of asylum seekers could end up being sent to the central African country.
Today, Ms Patel said: “Britain’s asylum system is broken as criminals exploit and smuggle people into our country at huge costs to UK taxpayers.
“The world-leading migration partnership with Rwanda means those making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK may be relocated to Rwanda to have their claims for asylum considered and to rebuild their lives there, helping break the people smugglers’ business model and prevent loss of life.
“This is just the first stage of the process and we know it will take time as some will seek to frustrate the process and delay removals.
“I will not be deterred from acting to deliver on the changes the British people voted for to take back control of our money, laws and borders.”
At least 7,739 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel this year so far, according to PA news agency analysis of Government figures – more than three times the number who arrived in the same period last year.
Signing the deal in April, Ms Patel explained the Government’s thinking behind the plan. She said: “Evil people smugglers and their criminal gangs are facilitating people into Europe, resulting in loss of life and huge costs to the UK taxpayer.
“The tragic loss of life of people in the Channel and in the Mediterranean at the hands of these evil smugglers must stop.”
She added: “Our approach as two outward-looking countries has led to the signing of a new international partnership – which is a world first.
“It is a migration and economic development partnership with the country of Rwanda and UK.”
More to follow…