Rwanda plan expanded to include failed asylum seekers

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Thousands more people could now be eligible for deportation under the expanded Rwanda scheme

  • Author, Kathryn Armstrong
  • Role, BBC News

Failed asylum seekers could be sent to Rwanda following an expansion of deportation plans from the Home Office.

Under the original plan, only those who arrived in the UK on or after 1 January 2022 could be deemed eligible for deportation.

But now the agreement between the UK and Rwanda is being expanded to include people who have already had a claim refused or withdrawn and are unable to appeal.

Campaigners say they will launch a legal challenge to the proposals.

Plans to send some asylum seekers to Africa have met with fierce criticism and the scheme could still be held up in the courts.

Asylum Aid, one of the UK’s leading organisations that helps victims of torture and trafficking, is among the groups that say they are preparing legal action.

The ruling raises significant questions about the long-term viability of the plan to refuse some asylum seekers a hearing and send them to Rwanda.

The Home Office said the judgement would not affect the “cohort currently being detained” as they “do not fall under the Illegal Migration Act” and “can be removed through existing legislation”.

Wednesday’s announcement suggests that people who do not agree to go voluntarily could still be detained and deported.

The government said failed asylum seekers would also be offered a support package, lasting up to five years, which includes provisions for education, training, employment and accommodation.

“Those who have no right to remain in the UK should not be allowed to stay,” Home Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement announcing the expansion of the plan.

“We have a safe third country ready and waiting to accept people, offer them support across the board, and help rebuild their lives.”

The Home Office said the first flights to Rwanda are on track to take off within nine weeks.

It has begun detaining migrants in preparation for sending a flight in the summer.

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