British home secretary Suella Braverman will travel to Rwanda over the weekend to discuss a proposal whereby the UK will transfer unauthorized migrants to the African country.
Despite the plan facing legal challenges and controversy, Braverman is reinforcing the strategy, which involves sending tens of thousands of migrants to Rwanda under a £120 million ($146m) agreement that was made last year.
The initiative is a key component of the UK’s scheme to apprehend and expel asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats.
Some charities have criticised the policy, arguing that it could be unworkable and that it may criminalize the efforts of legitimate refugees. Nevertheless, no flights have yet taken place.
Braverman will meet Rwandan president Paul Kagame during the trip, and said that the removal of migrants to Rwanda could be put into action shortly.
“I am visiting Rwanda this weekend to reinforce the government’s commitment to the partnership as part of our plan to stop the boats and discuss plans to operationalise our agreement shortly,” she said in a statement.
The partnership was announced in April, but the first deportation flight was blocked by an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights.
London’s High Court then ruled it lawful in December but opponents are seeking to appeal that verdict in April and it could yet go to Britain’s Supreme Court later in the year.
Braverman has robustly defended her approach, described her opponents as “naive do-gooders.” Opposition parties and charities have described the governments plans on immigration as unethical and unworkable.
After a record 45,000 migrants arrived in Britain last year on small boats, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that finding a solution is one of his top priorities. Britain spends more than 2 billion pounds a year to accommodate them, and has tendered a $95 million contract to transport them to countries like Rwanda instead.