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First 50 migrants will be sent to Rwanda in two weeks, Boris Johnson vows
14 May 2022, 08:41 | Updated: 14 May 2022, 10:09
The Prime Minister has revealed the first 50 migrants will be sent to Rwanda within a fortnight, under new controversial government plans.
Boris Johnson said that he was ready for a fight with "leftie lawyers" seeking to challenge plans to offshore the processing asylum applications to Rwanda.
He revealed that the first 50 "illegal entrants into this country" have already been served notice that they will be sent to the African nation within a fortnight.
He told The Daily Mail: "There's going to be a lot of legal opposition from the types of firms that for a long time have been taking taxpayers' money to mount these sorts of cases, and to thwart the will of the people, the will of Parliament. We're ready for that.
"We will dig in for the fight and you know, we will make it work. We've got a huge flowchart of things we have to do to deal with it, with the leftie lawyers."
Asked if he might respond with a review of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Johnson he said: "We'll look at everything. Nothing is off the table."
Charities such as the British Red Cross and the Refugee Council have warned that they are starting to hear accounts of some asylum seekers in Britain going into hiding because they fear being sent to Rwanda, as well as deciding not to claim health support amid concerns the NHS could pass their details to the Home Office.
The scheme announced last month by Home Secretary Priti Patel will see the UK pay for asylum seekers who are deemed to have arrived on its shores "illegally" to be sent to Rwanda, where their claims will be processed.
If successful, they will be granted asylum or given refugee status in the country.
Bond, a UK network of NGOs, joined with more than 160 other British organisations to condemn the plan earlier in April.
Opponents said it was "fundamentally out of step with widespread public support for refugees in the UK".
"Sending people seeking asylum to Rwanda will cause immense suffering, with the most vulnerable people bearing the brunt," they added.
"This is a shamefully cruel way to treat people who have come to the UK to seek protection, fleeing persecution or conflict."
The criticism was compounded when it emerged the British Government had condemned Rwanda for failing to carry out "transparent, credible and independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations including deaths in custody and torture".
A statement by the UK's international ambassador for human rights, Rita French, said in July 2021: "We were disappointed that Rwanda did not support the UK recommendation to screen, identify and provide support to trafficking victims, including those held in government transit centres."
Tom Pursglove, Illegal Migration Minister, said he expects the scheme to save Britain money in the longer term, with the UK currently spending £5 million per day on domestic asylum accommodation.
Mr Pursglove said that "overall Rwanda is a safe and secure country" to use for resettlement, arguing that there were "no systematic breaches" of human rights obligations in the east African country.
He told MPs on Wednesday that it was "logical" that by striking at the business model of people traffickers, the amount of people crossing the Channel would decline.
But when asked by the Home Affairs Committee what modelling was used to give the "evidence base for this decision", the minister replied: "This is a new and untested policy at this point in time.
"I do think that in the fullness of time we will see this policy, as part of a wider package that we are introducing, really shift the dynamic.
"What is absolutely clear is we cannot continue with the status quo."
Lone child migrants who have arrived in the UK will be exempt from the policy, the Home Office has already confirmed.
Whilst Boris Johnson told LBC that Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their homeland will not get shipped off to Rwanda.