'Only 300 migrants will be sent to Rwanda each year' despite 'thousands' pledge

6 May 2022, 12:45

boat dover
'Only 300 migrants will be sent to Rwanda each year' despite 'thousands' pledge. Picture: Alamy

By Liam Gould

Only 300 migrants will be sent to Rwanda each year under the government's controversial programme, according to a Home Office model.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said "tens of thousands" of people would be sent to Rwanda as part of the £120m deal.

The programme has come under significant criticism and legal challenges since it was announced last month by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The proposed policy will see adult migrants who are 'inadmissible' for asylum deported to Rwanda for their cases to be processed.

It was presented as a solution to the increased number of people crossing the Channel, but many have criticised both the legality and effectiveness of the "unworkable" scheme.

Official figures show almost 300 suspected migrants were detected in small boats crossing the English Channel on Tuesday.

Another 254 were picked up on Sunday making a total of 7,300 this year, so far - tripling the number of people the year before.

There are concerns more asylum seekers are braving the dangerous journey because of the calmer weather.

People who arrive in the UK will need to be 'inadmissible for asylum' before qualifying for removal under the programme. Under a similar rulebook, Britain deemed just 300 'inadmissible' a year.

Read More: No migrant crossings detected for nine days - but unclear if Rwanda deal is behind it

Read More: Boris deploys the Navy to stop Channel migrants as fury erupts over Rwanda plans

761 people have been detained after trying to cross the English Channel in May, with around 20 people already crossing on Friday.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council told The Times: "The government’s desire to treat people as human cargo expelling them to Rwanda is not only appallingly unprincipled, it is also unworkable.

"The government now seems to be realising that the challenges of making it a reality are far greater than it had anticipated.

"There’s a likelihood that it could easily unravel and certainly never be on a scale the prime minister said it could be."

Modelling carried out by Home Office officials indicates the plan will massively fall short of the initial PM's statement saying "tens of thousands" will be removed.

The Home Office analysis estimated only 300 people would be sent to Rwanda a year by comparing the number of migrants who were categorised as 'inadmissible' for asylum under a previous EU system that was applied in Britain pre-Brexit.

Under the EU's Dublin Regulations, which stopped applying to the UK after December 31 2020, identical 'asylum admissibility' rules were used to the new Rwanda scheme.

Fewer than 300 asylum seekers a year were branded 'asylum inadmissible' in the final six years of Britain's tenure under the Dublin Regulations. 

If this analysis proves to be accurate, it'd take 34 years for 10,000 migrants to be removed to Rwanda under the scheme.

Read More: Rwanda migrant deal turns Brits into people traffickers, caller cries

migrant
Official figures show almost 300 suspected migrants were detected in small boats crossing the English Channel on Tuesday. . Picture: Alamy

But, speaking at a press conference when the scheme was announced, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said "tens of thousands" would be resettled as part of the programme.

“The deal we have done [with Rwanda] is uncapped, and Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead," he said.

"And let’s be clear, Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world, globally recognised for its record of welcoming and integrating migrants."

A government spokesperson said they did not recognise the Home Office analysis and emphasised that the number who could be sent to Rwanda was 'uncapped'.

boat
If this analysis proves to be accurate, it'd take 34 years for 10,000 migrants to be removed to Rwanda under the scheme. . Picture: Alamy

Read More: Govt signed refugee deal months after condemning Rwanda for human rights abuses

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has come under fire for "attacks" on lawyers who are "simply doing their jobs" as the Government faces legal action over plans to send migrants to Rwanda.

Mr Johnson claimed "liberal lawyers" will attempt to scupper the deal as Downing Street said flights for the one-way trip to the east African nation may not take place for months, in the wake of criticism and legal challenges.

Mr Johnson said there would be "legal eagles, liberal lawyers, who will try to make this difficult to settle" but insisted the Rwanda deal was a "very sensible thing" and that this was a "humane, compassionate and sensible" solution to tackling Channel crossings.

Mark Fenhalls QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said: "Attacks on men and women for simply doing their jobs are irresponsible and undermine the rule of law."

Number 10 insisted the Government was not waiting for court cases to be resolved before putting the policy into practice but questions remain as to whether it is ready to be launched, with very little detail about how it will work being made public so far.

Officials are yet to confirm when the first flights will take off despite reports that Mr Johnson wanted to see this by the end of the month.