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Suella Braverman has hinted the first flight with migrants destined for Rwanda could take off “shortly”. The Home Secretary, who is visiting the nation this weekend, suggested accommodation capacity could increase quickly when flights begin following legal wrangling.
She will meet her counterpart Minister Vincent Biruta and President Paul Kagame to “discuss plans to operationalise our agreement shortly” as part of the Government’s plans to stop the boats.
Ms Braverman told how Rwanda has the capacity to resettle several thousands of people who arrive in the UK.
She said: “I am visiting Rwanda this weekend to reinforce the Government’s commitment to the partnership as part of our plan to stop the boats and discuss plans to operationalise our agreement shortly.
“The suggestion that Rwanda can only take 200 people is a completely false narrative peddled by critics who want to scrap the deal.
“Rwanda has the capacity to resettle many thousands of people, and can quickly stand up accommodation once flights begin.”
The five-year trial will see some migrants sent to Rwanda on a one-way ticket to claim asylum there.
Under legislation announced this month, people entering the UK via illegal routes will be removed and blocked from returning.
The government believes stopping small boats is a key issue for voters and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made it one of his top five priorities.
Ms Braverman said: “Rwanda is a safe, welcoming and thriving country and ground-breaking partnerships like this show how we can tackle illegal migration, support genuine refugees and break the criminal people smuggling gangs’ business model.”
Rwandan officials initially said the nation could process 1,000 asylum seekers during the trial period but has capacity for more.
Under the deal, the country can also ask the UK to take in some of its most vulnerable refugees.
Ms Braverman said: “Illegal migration is an international problem, and so it requires international solutions.”
Opponents argue that Rwanda is not a safe destination for asylum seekers and that the scheme breaks human rights laws.
But in December the High Court ruled that the plan is legal. It said the Rwanda scheme does not breach the UN’s Refugee Convention.
The High Court ruled in January that some of the groups who lost the case have the right to appeal against parts of its decision.
Flights will not be able to take off to Rwanda while the case goes to the Court of Appeal. No date has been set.
More than 45,000 people entered the UK via Channel crossings last year, up from about 300 in 2018.
In Rwanda, the Home Secretary plans to meet with entrepreneurs to discuss the range of business and employment opportunities available to people in the country.
She will meet with those leading on accommodation projects to house people relocated in the long-term, as well as speak with refugees who have settled in the country and built a new life for themselves.
Ms Braverman said: “Within three to six months, the Rwandan government will ensure that migrants are housed and integrated into local communities.
“I am looking forward to seeing some of the new, modern housing developments being built in Kigali, which will be used to house some of those resettled in Rwanda.”
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