UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman Visits Rwanda to Discuss Controversial Asylum Deal

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Braverman's visit comes as the UK government looks to ban those that arrive in Britain via non-standard routes from claiming asylum.

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrived in Rwanda Saturday to discuss a controversial deal that will see the United Kingdom deport to the central African country asylum seekers deemed to have illegally arrived in Britain.

It is 11 months since the UK agreed on the deal, which would see those that claimed asylum in Britain deported to Rwanda to have their application processed, and if successful be settled there. But the agreement remains mired in legal challenges – no one has yet been deported.

In a statement released Friday, Braverman reaffirmed her commitment to the scheme, saying the “UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership is a ground-breaking approach that will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys such as small boat crossing”.

The plan was signed in April last year, with the British government insisting it was aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous sea journey across the English Channel to England from France.

The programme, which would see the UK pay Rwanda $145 million (£120 million) over the next five years, has been criticised by NGOs, asylum seekers, and a civil service trade union which questioned its legality, leading the British government to delay its execution.

Braverman said Friday she was visiting Rwanda 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”.

“While in Rwanda, I will be visiting some of the initiatives supported by the partnership, from long-term accommodation sites to vocational training and education centres,” she said. “These initiatives will offer migrants the opportunity to build new lives in Rwanda.”

“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,” Braverman added.

She arrived in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali where she was greeted by permanent secretary to Rwanda’s foreign ministry Clementine Mukeka and British high commissioner to Rwanda Omar Daair.

No one has made the journey to Rwanda yet, after the first scheduled flight was stopped at the eleventh hour last June following an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and months of legal challenges that have since stalled the program.

About 45,755 people in 2022 alone are estimated to have crossed to the UK via small boats taken across the Channel – up 60% on the previous year.