Britain woos asylum seekers willing to move to Rwanda with £3,000

The British government is planning to pay asylum seekers up to 3,000 pounds an equivalent of $3,836 each to move to Rwanda under a voluntary plan to help clear the backlog of refugees who have had their applications to remain in the country rejected.

The new agreement with Rwanda is separate from the government’s stalled plan to forcibly deport most asylum seekers to the East African country, which was last year ruled unlawful by the UK’s Supreme Court.

Instead, it mirrors an existing government policy, where asylum seekers are offered financial assistance to leave the Britain for their home country, but under the new plan people will get the money if they agree to live in Rwanda.

Kevin Hollinrake, a junior business minister, said on Wednesday that the new policy was a good use of public money because it was cheaper than the cost of looking after people in Britain who had been denied asylum, but not yet removed.

“There are tens of thousands of asylum seekers in Britain who have been refused asylum, but they cannot be removed because the government is not allowed to return people to a war-torn country or one with a poor human rights record.

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“So, 3,000 pounds, of course that’s a lot of money, but nevertheless, it costs a lot of money to keep people in the UK who are failed asylum seekers,” Hollinrake told local media.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has invested huge amounts of political capital in a promise to stop the arrival of asylum seekers who arrive without permission on England’s southern coast in small, inflatable boats.

Under that plan, the government wants to send thousands of people to Rwanda, but the Supreme Court ruled last year that the policy was unlawful as it would violate British and international human rights laws.

In an effort to overcome resistance from the courts, Sunak’s government is passing legislation through parliament that would block further legal challenges by declaring Rwanda a so-called safe country for asylum seekers.

Rwanda currently has the capacity to accept a few hundred asylum seekers a year from Britain, the British government has said, adding the capacity could be increased.

Sunak has said he wants the first deportation flights to leave in the next few months – ahead of a national election expected in the second half of this year – so he can meet a pledge to “stop the boats”.

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