UK Starts Detaining Migrants for Deportation to Rwanda

| May 6, 2024
UK Starts Detaining Migrants for Deportation to Rwanda

British authorities have started to detain migrants in preparation for their deportation to Rwanda. 

The Home Office enforcement teams will conduct more activities in the coming weeks.

This aligns with the first flights to Rwanda, scheduled for nine to eleven weeks.

“This is a complex piece of work,” Home Office Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement

He stressed, “But we remain absolutely committed to operationalizing the policy, to stop the boats and break the business model of people smuggling gangs.”

Home Office Director of Enforcement Eddy Montgomery assured that enforcement teams are “highly trained and fully equipped” to carry out their roles “in the safest way possible.”   

“It is vital that operational detail is kept to a minimum to protect colleagues involved and those being detained,” he explained. 

Montgomery added that doing so also ensures the government can deliver on “this large-scale operation as quickly as possible.”

The Home Office has increased the capacity of a detention facility to accommodate up to 2,000 individuals.

It already has 200 trained caseworkers ready to process migrants’ claims quickly.

The government also has 500 highly trained individuals prepared to escort migrants to Rwanda.

It has already booked commercial charters, and an airport is on standby.

The Safety of Rwanda Act

After receiving Royal Assent on 25 April, the Safety of Rwanda Bill became law. 

Now known as The Safety of Rwanda Policy, it allows the UK government to deport migrants to the East African country if they arrived illegally.  

The policy aims to deter migrants from crossing the dangerous English Channel to come to the UK. 

It also seeks to dismantle the crime groups that facilitate such journeys.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats reached a record high of 46,000 in 2022.

So far this year, more than 7,500 migrants have arrived in the UK via small boats. 

Many migrants who arrived in the UK via small boats claim asylum, and the British government has granted it to many in the past. 

However, in April 2022, the UK made a deal with Rwanda to relocate stowaways and boat migrants to the East African country.

It argued that illegal migrants should not be treated as refugees since they did not seek asylum in the first safe country they reached.

If these migrants seek asylum in the UK, the British government will assess their claim while they stay in Rwanda.

If their asylum claims are successful, these migrants will stay in Rwanda.

Protests against transfers of asylum seekers

Even now that the Rwanda Bill has become a law, human rights activists and migrant groups continue the fight against it. 

They claimed that it is unethical and inhumane to send migrants to a country they don’t want to live in.

The Home Office’s enforcement teams have been met with protests to hamper its operations.

According to a Telegraph article published on 2 May, the teams had to postpone moving asylum claimants after “dozens of people” surrounded the coach.

The protesters “placed electric bikes under its front and rear wheels and punctured its tires,” forcing the Home Office to send a replacement vehicle. 

Over 100 officers from the Metropolitan Police dispersed protesters, arresting 45 who assaulted officers while obstructing the coach. 

“We will continue to remove those with no right to be here,” said Home Office Secretary Cleverly. 

He added, “No amount of chanting, drum banging or tyre-slashing by a noisy few will prevent us doing what is necessary.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister also urged the protesters to allow immigration officers to do their jobs. 

UK government assures Rwanda is safe

The British government reiterated that the treaty between the UK and Rwanda confirmed that the country is safe for migrants. 

The two countries had signed an internationally binding treaty to strengthen the protection of migrants.

It ensured that Rwanda would not send migrants deported from the UK back to their home country or any other unsafe country.

The East African country has also introduced a strengthened end-to-end asylum system, including a Monitoring Committee to ensure compliance.

“Rwanda has proven time and again” that it can offer asylum seekers a new, prosperous life, including accommodations, education, training, and employment. 

“The country has a strong and successful track record in resettling people,” the UK government said. 

It added that Rwanda has hosted more than 135,000 refugees and is ready to accept thousands more who cannot stay in the UK.