More than half of migrants bound for deportation to Rwanda missing, Home Office admits

30 April 2024, 00:19 | Updated: 30 April 2024, 01:17

Home Office admits it is unable to locate thousands of migrants flagged for Rwanda deportation flights
Home Office admits it is unable to locate thousands of migrants flagged for Rwanda deportation flights. Picture: Getty

By Flaminia Luck

The Home Office has admitted it is unable to locate more than half of the migrants set for deportation to Rwanda.

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Only 2,145 of the more than 5,700 migrants idenitifed for removal from the UK “continue to report to the Home Office and can be located for detention,” a document shared by the Home Office states, The Times has reported.

The remaining 3,557 have not necessarily absconded but are not subject to reporting restrictions - meaning they cannot be located for detention, The Home Office said.

A series of raids on migrants earmarked for deportation to Rwanda were due to start on Monday, it was previously reported.

It comes after the Rwanda Bill was passed last week after months of intense criticism.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Visits Berlin
Rishi Sunak's Rwanda bill will become law after a parliamentary showdown last week. Picture: Getty

Until now, The Home Office relied on the incentive of free accommodation and a £49 weekly allowance to stop people from absconding - but officials fear that the threat of deportation would outweigh that.

Sources in the department acknowledged there was a significant risk of absconding following the implementation of the Rwanda deportation scheme.

Officials are due to start detaining migrants this week ahead of the first flight to the African nation.

The information was included in an update to the department’s equality impact assessment.

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On Sunday, the Guardian reported the Home Office will launch a major operation today to detain those expected to be aboard the first flights.

Immigration officers will hold up refugees who turn up for routine meetings such as bail appointments and immigration service checks and then detain them ahead of expected deportation.

Caller Kit says Rishi Sunak is 'trying desperately to cling on to the supporters' of Rwanda policy

Migrants identified for deportation to Rwanda all arrived in the UK illegally between January 2022 and June 2023 - most in small boats.

It means that nobody who arrived in the UK in the last 10 months will be on the initial flights.

Migrants will be held in one of the UK’s six permanent immigration removal centres, with a maximum capacity of 2,175 individuals.

Home Office sources said there will be between 400 and 700 spaces reserved for migrants due for deportation to Rwanda.

The remaining places will be needed for the detention of foreign criminals and other immigration offenders such as those who have broken the terms or overstayed their visas.

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The document also revealed concerns that MPs could succeed in delaying or cancelling the deportation of migrants by submitting last-minute representations. There is a long-standing parliamentary convention that removal is suspended until a case has been considered and a response issued to the MP.

However, the Home Office stated in the document it can expect “significant attention” from MPs given the “novel nature” of the Rwanda scheme, adding: “Responders may be overwhelmed by cases, causing a delay or removal to be cancelled pending a response”.

But, the department did state it has extra staff to respond to MPs’ representations.

The document also said some of the 5,700 group of migrants originally identified for removal to Rwanda “may wish to pursue voluntary departure to their home country instead” but any voluntary requests made after being detained for removal “will not be accepted”.

Five people - including a child - died crossing the Channel last week. Picture: Getty

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak believes the new police will act as a deterrent and stop people from making the trip across the Channel in small boats.

Last week, five migrants - including a seven-year-old girl - died making the journey.

However, critics of the policy say it is inhumane and potentially ineffective as a deterrent.

Claims that the majority of asylum seekers entering Ireland had crossed the border from Northern Ireland have been questioned by human rights and refugee organisations
Claims that the majority of asylum seekers entering Ireland had crossed the border from Northern Ireland have been questioned by human rights and refugee organisations. Picture: Alamy

A row has also erupted between the UK and Ireland after dozens of tents appeared in Dublin near the International Protection Office.

The pictures emerged as UK Government ministers today rejected Dublin's demands to take back asylum seekers crossing from Northern Ireland.

Rishi Sunak has said the movement of migrants across the border shows that Downing Street’s Rwanda plan ‘is working’ - and he has said he is "not interested" in any sort of returns deal.

Ireland is concerned that the UK Government's Rwanda policy is driving the flow of migrants across the border with the republic. The UK Government has hailed the deterrent effect of the Rwanda scheme.

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