UK to sign migration deal sending asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing

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Under a new controversial and often criticised UK government plan, some asylum seekers will be flown to Rwanda to have their applications processed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil the plans on Thursday, before Home Secretary Priti Patel signs a migration deal with the African nation.

BBC home editor Mark Easton said the deal would mean single men arriving in Britain via Channel crossings could be forcibly removed.

The Refugee Council criticised the policy as “cruel” and urged a rethink.

Labour said the plan was “unworkable, unethical and extortionate” – and one designed to “distract” from Mr. Johnson’s fine for breaking Covid-19 laws.

The Liberal Democrats said the proposal would be “expensive for taxpayers, while doing nothing to stop dangerous Channel crossings or combat the smuggling and trafficking gangs”.

The deal is expected to see the Rwandan government given an initial £120m as part of a trial, but opponents say the annual cost of the full scheme would be far higher.

In his speech, Mr. Johnson will argue that action is needed to stop “vile people smugglers” turning the ocean into a “watery graveyard”.

Thousands of people have crossed the English Channel in small boats from France to the UK this year. Last year, 28,526 people made the crossing, compared with 8,404 in 2020.

Mr Johnson will say that the number of people making the perilous crossing could reach 1,000 a day within weeks, after about 600 arrived on Wednesday.

“We cannot sustain a parallel illegal system,” Mr. Johnson will say. “Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not.”

On Thursday in Kent, he will announce plans to break the business model of people-smuggling gangs, step-up patrol operations in the Channel, and prosecute more criminals.

The measures are part of the government’s long-term plan to “take back control of illegal immigration” after Brexit, Mr. Johnson will say.

Those measures – including the Rwanda processing proposal – are designed to deter people from crossing the Channel in small boats.

While the number of crossings in small boats has increased, last year saw fewer people using other strategies to enter the country undetected.

That is partially because security at the Port of Calais in France – where UK border controls are – has been tightened, meaning crossing by lorry is harder. (Source: BBC)

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