The first failed asylum seeker is sent to Rwanda under a voluntary scheme

  • Written by Paul Seddon
  • Political correspondent, BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, The rejected asylum seeker is likely to have flown to Kigali, the Rwandan capital

The UK is understood to have returned the first rejected asylum seeker to Rwanda under the voluntary removal programme.

Under the programme, announced last month, rejected migrants are offered up to £3,000 to move to the East African country.

It is separate from the forced return plan that the government announced two years ago.

The scheme, which has been subject to delays, is scheduled to begin by mid-July.

No details were extracted from officials, other than to say that the asylum seeker has exhausted all his rights to be in the UK.

Labor said the move showed ministers were “desperate” to travel to Rwanda before local elections scheduled for Thursday in England.

The scheme announced in March is understood to be a variant of the existing voluntary return scheme for rejected asylum seekers.

The scheme will also be opened to other people who do not have the right to remain in the UK, and foreign criminals.

The Home Office says payments under the current scheme “can cover” temporary accommodation in the destination country, education costs, or the cost of setting up a business.

According to official statistics, 19,253 people who did not have the right to remain in the UK were voluntarily deported from the UK last year.

Shadow foreign secretary Yvette Cooper described news of the voluntary return as a “pre-election gimmick”, adding that taxpayers “were paying £3,000 for a volunteer to get on a plane”.

“The Conservatives are so desperate to get any flights to Rwanda before the local elections that they have now paid someone to go,” she added.

This comes after the Home Office confirmed that Rwanda has agreed to accept an initial group of 5,700 asylum seekers under a separate forced return plan.

The scheme – which the government says will prevent future migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats – is facing legal delays.

The Home Office said 2,143 asylum seekers could be immediately located for detention in the run-up to their flights, as they inform the ministry.

Downing Street insisted on Tuesday that it remained confident about their whereabouts, after the figures became public as part of a policy document.

However, a government source acknowledged that some may have fled before being arrested.

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