Britain Sends First Voluntary Asylum Seeker to Rwanda Under New Scheme

UK sends first voluntary asylum seeker to Rwanda, offering £3,000 to relocate, as part of efforts to deter Channel crossings and clear refugee backlog, drawing criticism from UN and rights groups.

Shivani Chauhan
New Update
Britain Sends First Voluntary Asylum Seeker to Rwanda Under New Scheme

Britain Sends First Voluntary Asylum Seeker to Rwanda Under New Scheme

Britain has sent its first voluntary asylum seeker to Rwanda under a separate scheme from the forced deportation program. The unnamed man of African origin was offered up to £3,000 ($3,750) to relocate to Kigali, Rwanda on a commercial flight after his asylum request was rejected late last year.

This voluntary scheme is part of the UK government's efforts to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel and clear the refugee backlog. It offers financial incentives to individuals willing to relocate to Rwanda, with no possibility of returning to the UK. The scheme is separate from the government's controversial forced deportation plan, which allows the UK to expel undocumented migrants to Rwanda.

The British government claims this voluntary relocation is evidence that the Rwanda plan will succeed, as it faces fewer legal challenges than the forced deportation policy. The government has identified more than 5,700 migrants for removal under the forced deportation program, but only 2,145 of them continue to report to the Home Office and can be located for detention. The remaining 3,557 migrants are likely to have "disappeared" and may have ended up in Ireland, according to a former Border Force chief.

Why this matters: The move to send asylum seekers to Rwanda has drawn criticism from the United Nations and human rights organizations, highlighting concerns about the welfare and rights of those subjected to the deportation measures. The UK is grappling with record-high arrivals of migrants, and the deportation program to Rwanda is a part of the government's broader effort to manage migration flows.

The opposition Labour Party criticized the voluntary scheme as an "extortionate pre-election gimmick" ahead of local elections. However, the government believes the voluntary scheme is legal and will help deter migrants from risking their lives to reach Britain. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made "stopping the boats" one of his five pledges to the public, but the forced deportation flights are not expected to start until the summer.

Key Takeaways

  • UK sent first voluntary asylum seeker to Rwanda, offering £3,000 to relocate.
  • Voluntary scheme part of UK's efforts to deter migrant crossings and clear backlog.
  • UK claims voluntary scheme faces fewer legal challenges than forced deportation plan.
  • UN and rights groups criticize the deportation measures, citing welfare and rights concerns.
  • Opposition calls voluntary scheme an "extortionate pre-election gimmick", but UK says it's legal.