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Suella Braverman has arrived in Rwanda in her first to the country as Home Secretary as she doubles down on the Government’s controversial deportation policy. A plane carrying Ms Braverman arrived in the east African country earlier this morning.
Ms Braverman said ahead of the trip: “The UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership is a ground-breaking approach that will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys such as small boat crossings.
“It will also support people to rebuild their lives in a new country, and provide a boost to Rwanda’s fast-growing economy through a significant investment in jobs, skills, and opportunities.
“I am visiting Rwanda this weekend to reinforce the Government’s commitment to the partnership as part of our plan to stop the boats and discuss plans to operationalise our agreement shortly.”
Ms Braverman also hit back at critics of the deal, saying Rwanda can hold “many thousands” of migrants – although none have yet been relocated.
The Home Secretary’s visit comes after her predecessor, Priti Patel, signed an agreement with Rwandan officials in April last year in a bid to deter small boat crossings.
Charity, Freedom from Torture, on Friday joined several media outlets which criticised the publicly-funded visit, labelling it a “showboat trip” after the Independent reported that outlets including the BBC, The Guardian and Daily Mirror were not invited.
During her trip, the Home Secretary is due to meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame and her counterpart Vincent Biruta to discuss the deal.
Ms Braverman said: “We will discuss all aspects of the partnership, which is not just about deterring illegal and dangerous journeys to the UK, but about ensuring those genuinely in need of protection are supported to build a new life in Rwanda.”
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She is also due to speak with those leading projects to house migrants as well as talking to refugees who have settled in the country.
Ms Braverman will meet with investment start-up professionals and entrepreneurs to discuss the range of business and employment opportunities available in Rwanda.
She said: “Within three to six months, the Rwandan government will ensure migrants are housed and integrated into local communities.
“I am looking forward to seeing some of the new, modern housing developments being built in Kigali, which will be used to house some of those resettled in Rwanda.”
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The Government’s plan to forcibly remove migrants to the African country is currently stalled by the courts. Asylum seekers were told on Tuesday they could appeal against Home Office decisions to relocate them.
A group of people from countries including Iran, Iraq and Syria are aiming to overturn rulings made by two High Court judges in December who dismissed a series of legal bids against the Government’s plan.
After details emerged of the Home Secretary’s trip to Rwanda, Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive at Freedom from Torture, described the policy as a “cash-for-humans” scheme.
She said: “Braverman is jetting off on a showboat trip to Rwanda the very week that the Court of Appeal has accepted that there are serious questions to be answered over the legality of this Government’s cash-for-humans scheme.”
“Following the outpouring of support for Gary Lineker and his compassionate stand on behalf of refugees, this Government knows it is on the back foot and is once again ramping up the cruelty to distract from their own failures.”
She added that rather than pushing through an “inhumane and unworkable” policy, ministers should focus on establishing safe routes to the UK.
Ms Sceats also urged the Governemnt to tackle what she described as an “unacceptable” backlog of asylum claims so people fleeing war and persecution can rebuild their lives “with dignity”.
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