How the UK’s migrant plan to Rwanda will exceed $760 million

How the UK's migrant plan to Rwanda will exceed $760 million How the UK's migrant plan to Rwanda will exceed $760 million
How the UK's migrant plan to Rwanda will exceed $760 million.

The UK government’s controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda could end up costing more than $760 million, according to a report released by parliament’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office (NAO).

The plan, which was first announced in 2022, aims to deport 300 refugees who arrive on England’s southern coast in small, inflatable boats. However, ongoing legal challenges have halted the deportation process so far.

The government envisions sending thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda, although the actual capacity of the nation remains unclear. Currently, Britain has already paid Rwanda $278.1 million, with an additional $189.61 million agreed to be paid over the next three years. Once the first 300 individuals are resettled, the UK government will also pay Rwanda $151.7 million.

In addition to these costs, the NAO revealed that each individual resettled in Rwanda would incur an additional cost of $190,714, to cover expenses such as accommodation and living arrangements. When other expenses, such as flights, are taken into account, the total cost of the migrant plan is expected to exceed $760 million.

Despite the significant financial commitment, the NAO noted that the government could activate a break clause that would become effective after three months. However, any previous payments made to Rwanda would not be recoverable, and the government would still be obligated to honor future payments associated with relocated individuals.

Despite acknowledging that the government’s deportation policy is a “high-risk and novel policy,” the spending watchdog has revealed that the final cost of the scheme will depend on the number of individuals deported.

How the UK's migrant plan to Rwanda will exceed $760 million
How the UK’s migrant plan to Rwanda will exceed $760 million.

This comes after last year’s ruling by the UK’s Supreme Court, which deemed the scheme unlawful due to violations of British and international human rights laws. The court found serious inadequacies in the Rwandan system, further complicating the government’s plan. 

However, despite these setbacks and the financial burden involved, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has expressed his commitment to move forward with the policy. In an attempt to preempt further legal challenges, the government is currently working to pass legislation in parliament that would declare Rwanda a safe country.

Sunak has heavily invested his political capital in this policy and hopes that if deportation flights take off before an expected election later this year, it will bolster support for his Conservative Party, which is currently lagging in opinion polls. 

The controversy surrounding this issue is due, in part, to the fact that many asylum seekers who arrive in Britain on small boats claim to be fleeing from wars and abuse in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. While the majority of them are granted refugee status, the British government argues that around 90 percent of those making the journey are men, many of whom are economic migrants rather than genuine refugees. So far this year, a total of 2,255 asylum seekers have arrived in Britain on small boats.

The UK government’s decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda has sparked widespread controversy and criticism. Many argue that the plan undermines the UK’s legal and moral obligations to offer protection to those seeking asylum. Concerns have also been raised regarding the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers in Rwanda, as well as the long-term viability and sustainability of the plan.

Critics have called on the government to reconsider its approach and instead focus on finding more humane and effective solutions to the asylum seeker crisis. They argue that investing such a significant amount of money into a controversial and uncertain plan may not be the most prudent use of resources.

In response to the NAO report, the UK government defended its migrant plan, emphasizing its commitment to addressing the issue of illegal migration and improving the asylum system. It highlighted the comprehensive support that would be provided to resettled individuals in Rwanda, including access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.

However, the debate around the migrant plan continues, with concerns regarding its viability, cost-effectiveness, and adherence to human rights principles. As legal challenges persist and public scrutiny intensifies, the future of the UK’s asylum policy remains uncertain, leaving the fate of asylum seekers and the proposed partnership with Rwanda hanging in the balance.

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