UK taxpayers helping fund Rwanda apartments for asylum seekers
UK taxpayers are helping fund new apartments for asylum seekers in Rwanda, it has emerged as Suella Braverman makes her first visit to the country this weekend.
Rwanda has previously only showcased reception accommodation centres such as Hope Hostel in Kigali, the capital, but has now begun work on long-term accommodation for migrants deported from the UK to seek asylum in the central African state.
On the eve of a two-day visit to Rwanda, Mrs Braverman, the Home Secretary, said the suggestion that Rwanda could only take 200 migrants was a “completely false narrative peddled by critics who want to scrap the deal”.
“Rwanda has the capacity to accommodate tens of thousands of people, and can quickly stand this up once flights begin,” she said.
Mrs Braverman is expected to visit the longer-term accommodation being partly funded from the £140 million provided by the UK. She also has scheduled meetings with Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, and Dr Vincent Biruta, her ministerial counterpart who signed the Rwanda asylum plan with Priti Patel, her predecessor.
It comes as between 200 and 300 migrants were reported as having been intercepted in the Channel and brought to shore in England, bringing the total so far this year to nearly 3,500. They are the first to reach the UK since the Government unveiled its plans to bar migrants who enter illegally from claiming asylum in Britain.
Mrs Braverman’s visit is designed to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to remove migrants who enter the UK illegally so that their asylum, modern slavery or other claims are processed abroad in Rwanda or other safe countries.
Deportation flights to Rwanda are currently suspended pending the outcome of legal challenges, which are before the Court of Appeal. It is thought unlikely the legal action will be resolved until later this year or even early 2024.
Mrs Braverman said the “ground-breaking” Rwanda scheme would act “as a powerful deterrent to the illegal and dangerous Channel crossings”, enable migrants to rebuild their lives and boost the country’s economy through “significant” investment in jobs and skills.
She said reception centres such as Hope Hostel were only intended to provide migrants with initial, short-term accommodation on arrival before they were housed and integrated into local communities within three to six months.
“I am looking forward to seeing some of the new, modern housing developments being built in Kigali, which many migrants will have the chance to call home in the years to come,” said Mrs Braverman.
“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.”
The Rwandan government said it was ready “scale up” accommodation to provide “whatever” numbers of migrants the UK required.
Yolande Makolo, a government spokesman, said: “We have an existing accommodation facility – Hope Hostel – available to host 200 migrants immediately. As soon as flights begin, we will be able to scale up rapidly to meet whatever the requirements are.
“We have a number of arrangements with hotels and other facilities, which we can operationalise at very short notice.
“The nature of this partnership is that those who wish to remain in Rwanda will be provided with the opportunity to build a new life here. All migrants will be integrated into communities after around three months, so we are not necessarily limited by temporary accommodation spaces.”