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Boris Johnson wants first migrant flight to Rwanda in SIX WEEKS despite legal concerns

Boris Johnson wants first migrant flight to Rwanda in SIX WEEKS despite legal concerns 2

How will the new Rwanda migrant scheme work? 

Cross-channel arrivals assessed and anyone deemed an economic migrant rather than a refugee is sent to Rwanda

  • Initial agreement worth £120million over five years  
  • Failed immigrants urged to start new life in Africa 
  • Initially based at hostel in Kigali
  • Hope House is currently being used as budget accommodation for tourists
  • Privately owned, the East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property 
  • Memorandum of understanding (MOU) says Government will screen asylum seekers ‘without delay’ after arrival in the UK
  • All requests will require approval from Rwanda before relocation
  • Nation can refuse to take people with criminal records 
  • People who cross the Channel in small boats will undergo initial checks at the Western Jet Foil facility in Dover
  • Further checks at a processing site in Manston, Kent. Where their claim is deemed inadmissible, they may be removed to a ‘third safe country’. 
  • Royal Navy to lead Channel policing role, helping Border Force from today
  • PM attacked ‘a formidable army of politically motivated lawyers’ who have thwarted previous action
  • PM: ‘Our compassion may be infinite but our capacity to help people is not. We can’t ask the British taxpayer to write a blank cheque to cover the costs of anyone who might want to come and live here.’ 

Boris Johnson last night vowed to take on the ‘army’ of Left-wing lawyers and naysayers lining up to thwart his plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda – as he pledged the first flights could take off within just six weeks.

The Prime Minister pledged to do ‘whatever it takes’ to push through his landmark scheme to tackle the small-boats crisis in the Channel and smash people trafficking gangs.

Revealing details of the dramatic strategy, Mr Johnson said ‘tens of thousands’ of Channel migrants would be sent to the East African nation – 4,000 miles away – with a one-way ticket.

The Daily Mail understands the first flight is expected to leave before the end of next month – and the scheme will be back-dated to cover all those who have arrived in the UK since the start of the year.

The government wants tens of thousands of people moved within the next few years, but some experts are warning of a surge of Channel crossings before the policy comes into effect, the Times reports.

Simon Hoare, one of only three Tory MPs to vote against the plans, told the paper: ‘All this will do is mean we’ll see a vast amount of people trying [to cross] now before this comes in’. 

People smugglers would be encouraging people to cross with a ‘must end soon’ sale, he added.

The Royal Navy was drafted in yesterday to take charge of operations in the Channel as part of the sweeping crackdown on illegal immigration.

Last night, there were howls of protest from opposition party politicians, human rights bodies and campaign groups, who branded the measures as ‘evil’, ‘cruel’ and ‘unethical’. 

More than 160 British organisations – including Liberty, Stonewall and Greenpeace – all signed an open letter to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary in protest at the deal.

There have also been concerns over the cost of the scheme, with the price of each migrant sent to Rwanda to the taxpayer estimated to be between £20,000 and £30,000.  

This total figure will cover accommodation before departure, a seat on a chartered plane and their first three months of accommodation in Rwanda, the Times reports.

Ministers are braced for a fierce legal fight to stop opponents from scuppering the scheme before it starts. Mr Johnson accepted that the plan would be ‘challenged in the courts’, but insisted he was confident about its legality. It came as:

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the historic £120 million deal with Rwandan officials during a visit to the capital Kigali; 
  • Mr Johnson insisted Rwanda was one of the safest countries in the world; 
  • It emerged the first migrants to be sent from Britain will be put up in a former tourist hostel with scenic views over the city;
  • The scheme – including Home Office charter flights to Rwanda – is likely to cost between £20,000 and £30,000 a head;
  • The naval operation in the Channel was given a mission to make sure ‘no boat makes it to the UK undetected’;
  • The PM said it was his aim to bring the numbers arriving in the country illegally ‘down to zero’, but admitted that was unlikely ‘any time soon’;
  • Labour accused the Prime Minister of trying to distract voters from the Partygate scandal with the ‘unworkable, unethical and extortionate’ scheme;
  • Hundreds of asylum seekers risked their lives to cross the Channel yesterday – illustrating the problem faced by officials;
  • Residents of the North Yorkshire village of Linton-on-Ouse – where one of several migrant reception centres will be built – expressed unease at the plan.
Boris Johnson last night vowed to take on the 'army' of Left-wing lawyers and naysayers lining up to thwart his plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda

Boris Johnson last night vowed to take on the ‘army’ of Left-wing lawyers and naysayers lining up to thwart his plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda

Migrants travelling to the UK on small boats will be put on jets and sent to Rwanda while their applications are processed

Migrants travelling to the UK on small boats will be put on jets and sent to Rwanda while their applications are processed

A view of facilities at Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of the capital city Kigali, in Rwanda

A view of facilities at Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of the capital city Kigali, in Rwanda

Boris Johnson wants first migrant flight to Rwanda in SIX WEEKS despite legal concerns 3

Welcome to Rwanda: Regime in genocide-haunted country accused of murder, kidnapping and torture

Rwanda is a landlocked country in central and eastern Africa best known in the west for the horrific 1994 ethnic genocide. 

In just 100 days of a brutal civil war, up to 800,000 Tutsi people were murdered, with many of them hacked to death in their homes by armed militias of the Hutu majority.

Up to half a million women were raped as violence gripped the country, often with neighbours turning on neighbours. 

The carnage provoked horror and condemnation around the world, and the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front later won the war and forced those responsible for the murder into exile.

But while the country is more stable today, it still has a highly questionable human rights record.

Earlier this week the US State Department produced its annual analysis of the country.

It reported ‘significant human rights issues’ with the Government, including:

  • unlawful or arbitrary killings
  • forced disappearance 
  • torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment 
  • harsh and life-threatening prison conditions
  • arbitrary detention
  • political prisoners or detainees
  •  arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy 

It added: ‘The government took some steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses and acts of corruption, including within the security services, but impunity involving civilian officials and some members of the state security forces was a problem.’

In a separate report, Amnesty International reports similar findings.

While noting the Kagame government had acted to help women prosecuted for having abortions, and to prosecute those accused of genocide, it added: ‘Violations of the rights to a fair trial, freedom of expression and privacy continued, alongside enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force.’

 

 

In a major speech in Kent yesterday, Mr Johnson accepted the Rwandan deal was not a ‘magic bullet’ that will solve the small-boats crisis.

But he said it would ‘save countless lives’ by breaking the business model of the ‘vile people smugglers’ who risk turning the Channel into a ‘watery graveyard’.

Officials expect thousands who entered the country by illegal means will be removed to Rwanda in the coming years.

Mr Johnson said arrangements with the African country will be ‘uncapped’, and it had the ‘capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead’.

He said the partnership will be ‘fully compliant with our international legal obligations’, but acknowledged the Government was braced for court challenges.

‘If this country is seen as a soft touch for illegal migration by some of our partners, it is precisely because we have such a formidable army of politically motivated lawyers who for years have made it their business to thwart removals and frustrate the Government,’ he said.

‘So I know that this system will not take effect overnight, but I promise that we will do whatever it takes to deliver this new approach, initially within the limits of the existing legal and constitutional frameworks, but also prepared to explore any and all further legal reforms which may be necessary.’

Miss Patel insisted she was confident she would be able to fend off moves to thwart the plans in the courts. Asked if she is preparing for legal challenges, the Home Secretary said: ‘We have to. Well, in the same way in which our political opponents just sort of opine a view, condemn everything that the Government does.

‘Number one, they don’t have a plan. Number two, they just vote everything down constantly. And as for the lawyers, they are fleecing the British taxpayer. A lot of this is legal aid money that goes into the merry go round of claim after claim after claim.’

Pushed on whether the scheme was reliant on legislation going through Parliament that critics have threatened to vote down, Miss Patel said: ‘No, no, it’s not. The whole principle of this agreement partnership that we have is not hinged on the Nationality and Borders Bill, let me be clear about that. In terms of domestic litigation, we have worked extensively… the level of detail (in the Memorandum of Understanding setting out the agreement) is forensic.’

The Law Society dismissed Mr Johnson’s criticism of lawyers. In a thinly veiled reference to Partygate, its president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ‘It is particularly disappointing – this week of all weeks – the Government is repeating misleading suggestions that legal challenges are politically motivated.

‘Legal challenges establish if the Government is abiding by its own laws. If the Government wishes to avoid losing court cases, it should act within the law of the land.’

British Red Cross executive director Zoe Abrams said it was ‘profoundly concerned’ about the proposal to ‘send traumatised people halfway round the world’.

The Refugee Council’s Enver Solomon urged the Government to ‘immediately rethink its plans’, and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the plan was ‘evil’. 

When will the first migrants be flown to Rwanda? Will they return to UK if asylum is granted? YOUR questions answered as PM reveals Australia-style plan for Channel refugees

Boris Johnson’s plan to fly many asylum seekers 4,000 miles to Rwanda sparks an obvious question – how will it all work?

Despite drawing obvious comparisons to Australia’s model of ‘offshoring’ migrants on Pacific island detention centres, the initiative has few precedents and raises a raft of logistical and ethical challenges.

With 28,526 Channel migrant crossings last year, the scale of the problem ministers are trying to tackle is obvious. 

But their solution has been widely condemned by opposition politicians and human rights groups, who have branded it ‘cruel’, ‘impractical’ and ruinously expensive. 

The Prime Minister himself has accepted it is likely to face legal challenges, although he insists it is lawful under both UK and international law. 

As the government gears up for a huge battle to see the plan through Parliament and the courts, we answer your key questions about how it could work and what will happen to the migrants involved. 

Boris Johnson wants first migrant flight to Rwanda in SIX WEEKS despite legal concerns 5

Who could be sent to Rwanda?

Anyone who comes to the UK illegally – including in small boats or refrigerated lorries – will be considered for relocation to Rwanda. 

There will be an assessment stage, where the strength of each individual’s asylum claim will be taken into account, as well as the way they arrived in the country. 

The exact nature of this process has not yet been announced but the military won’t be involved. 

Anyone sent to Rwanda on flights paid for by UK taxpayers will have their claims processed there rather than in the UK. Others will be taken to a new immigration centre at a former RAF base at Linton-on-Ouse, near York. 

Simon Hart, the Secretary of State for Wales, said the plan was focused on single young men, as they are considered to be more likely to be economic migrants. But a government source said anyone was eligible, regardless of sex.  

What will happen once they arrive?

Migrants are subject to Rwandan immigration rules as soon as they land. 

Anyone the authorities decide to deport – such as people who commit a crime – can be sent to the first ‘safe’ country or their country of origin. 

Asylum seekers will stay in a hostel while their claims are processed – a process set to take around three months. 

Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of Kigali, is set to be the first places to be used. It currently houses tourists for £19 a night. Guests will be allowed to move around freely and leave the property as they wish. 

Today, Priti Patel appeared to suggest the government would share responsibility for the wellbeing of migrants for the duration of their asylum claim. 

‘This is a partnership between our two countries,’ she said when asked if the UK will be responsible for their welfare and the conditions they live in.   

People who are found to have a legitimate claim to asylum will be allowed to stay in Rwanda for at least five years with a training and support package. Those who fail will be deported back to their home country.     

A view of facilities at Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of Rwanda's capital city Kigali, where the first arrivals are likely to be housed

A view of facilities at Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of Rwanda’s capital city Kigali, where the first arrivals are likely to be housed 

Privately owned, the East African nation's government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property so asylum seekers sent from the UK can stay there temporarily while their claims are processed

Privately owned, the East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property so asylum seekers sent from the UK can stay there temporarily while their claims are processed

When will the first migrants be flown there? 

The first people to be relocated to Rwanda will receive formal notifications within weeks, with the first flights expected to take place in the coming months.

However, Boris Johnson today accepted that legal challenges would mean the system ‘will not take effect overnight’.  

He said the agreement is ‘uncapped’ and Rwanda will have the ‘capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead’, including those who have arrived ‘illegally’ since the start of the year. 

What is the government’s reasoning?

The plan is designed to deter economic migrants by showing that even if they reach British shores, they will not be allowed to remain here.

If the scheme works as expected, thousands of asylum seekers will end up further away from Britain than where they started.

It will also undermine the business models of people traffickers, who have been driving migrants to sea in increasingly unsafe conditions.

Other aspects of the plan are thought to include a new reception centre for asylum seekers in North Yorkshire, the Ministry of Defence being put in charge of policing the Channel and legal reforms to prevent failed asylum seekers mounting repeated appeals.   

Boris Johnson outlining the scheme in Kent today. Alongside the Rwanda scheme he has also ordered the Navy to police the English Channel and announced legal reforms

Boris Johnson outlining the scheme in Kent today. Alongside the Rwanda scheme he has also ordered the Navy to police the English Channel and announced legal reforms 

There are plans to expand the facility by building more accommodation blocks, eventually seeing it offer 150 rooms and be able to sleep up to 300 people

There are plans to expand the facility by building more accommodation blocks, eventually seeing it offer 150 rooms and be able to sleep up to 300 people

What are critics saying?

The plan has already faced a massive backlash, with claims that it is both cruel and expensive. Rwanda is best known in the west for a 1994 ethnic genocide that left up to 800,000 Tutsi people dead and it still has a mixed human rights records.

Amnesty International says there are still concerns over ‘enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force’. 

Earlier this month the Refugee Minister Lord Harrington said there was ‘no possibility’ of migrants being sent there.

Labour and Mr Johnson’s Tory critics claimed it was an expensive move to switch attention away from the Partygate row which continues to embarrass No10, although Mr Patel said the plans had been in the pipeline ‘for months’.

Opposition leader Keir Starmer branded the PM ‘desperate’ and said the plans were ‘unworkable, extortionate and will cost the taxpayer billions of pounds’.

And former defence minister Tobias Ellwood told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘He’s trying to make an announcement today on migration, and all of this is a massive distraction (from Partygate). It’s not going away.’ 

Will it end up in court?

Almost certainly.

Mr Johnson has accepted the plan is likely to face legal challenges, although he insisted it was ‘fully compliant with our international legal obligations’. 

Ministers believe it is legal under UK and EU laws, but human rights lawyers are expected to be already preparing cases.   

What’s it for Rwanda?

The country’s government will receive £120 million as part of the trial scheme, with the potential for increasing these payments if it proves a success. 

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is understood to be keen on the arrangement because his country is in desperate need of young male workers. 

Millions of young men have left Africa in recent decades for Europe and the US.    

How much could it cost?

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, predicted the plan would cost £1.4 billion a year.

But the Home Office questioned the figure, with a source saying it was ‘ludicrous to suggest costs would be more than the current system’.

Think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research pointed out that Australia’s scheme has cost taxpayers around £5.2 billion since 2013. 

Conservative former minister Andrew Mitchell said housing asylum seekers at the Ritz hotel would be cheaper, putting the figure at £2million per person, per year. 

Is there any precedent for asylum seekers being sent to Rwanda?

Yes, a similar migration deal between Rwanda and Israel between 2014 and 2017 saw thousands of African asylum seekers housed in guarded hotels.  

Nearly all the migrants left the country almost immediately, with many attempting to return to Europe via human smuggling routes, which are notorious for human rights abuses.   

Inside tourist hotel in Rwanda that will host Channel migrants flown 4,000 miles from the UK for up to three months in Australia-style plan to send them to country in desperate need of young men

Plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda from the UK are anticipated to initially see people taken to a hostel in the capital city for processing.

Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of Kigali, is currently being used as accommodation for tourists, according to Rwandan government officials.

Privately owned, the East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property so asylum seekers sent from the UK can stay there temporarily while their claims are processed. It is understood this could take up to three months.

Home Secretary Priti Patel made a private visit to the site today to see an example of what accommodation may be on offer.

Plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda from the UK are anticipated to initially see them taken to the former tourist hostel

Plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda from the UK are anticipated to initially see them taken to the former tourist hostel 

This is understood to be Ms Patel’s first visit to Rwanda since the deal was thrashed out, after being briefed by Home Office and Foreign Office officials who have been researching the plan.

The complex has 50 rooms at present and can accommodate around 100 people with up to two people per room and sharing communal bathrooms.

But there are plans to expand the facility by building more accommodation blocks, eventually seeing it offer 150 rooms and be able to sleep up to 300 people.

Asylum seekers are expected to be provided meals three times a day to eat in a communal dining room, with some kitchen facilities also available for those with special dietary requirements.

The government’s plan has already faced a massive backlash, with claims that it is both cruel and expensive.

Dr Peter William Walsh, Senior Researcher at the Migration Observatory in Oxford, said it would face ‘all kinds of logistical challenges’.

He told MailOnline: ‘Australia’s offshore experiment was beset by all kinds of problems, with people unable to access healthcare, as well as high rates of suicide and abuse. Then there’s the financial side to it. 

‘The Australian system was thought to be 800 times more expensive to house them offshore than in local centres. It cost one billion Australian dollars (£567m) to house fewer than 300 people.

‘There are so many questions about this plan and a lot of scepticism about whether it will actually come to pass given all the challenges it will face.’ 

Rwanda is best known in the west for a 1994 ethnic genocide that left up to 800,000 Tutsi people dead and it still has a mixed human rights records.

Amnesty International says there are still concerns over ‘enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force’.

Earlier this month the Refugee Minister Lord Harrington said there was ‘no possibility’ of migrants being sent there. But Boris Johnson today branded it ‘dynamic’ and one of the safest countries in the world. 

Privately owned, the East African nation's government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property so asylum seekers sent from the UK can stay there temporarily while their claims are processed

Privately owned, the East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property so asylum seekers sent from the UK can stay there temporarily while their claims are processed

The complex has 50 rooms at present and can accommodate around 100 people with up to two people per room and sharing communal bathrooms

The complex has 50 rooms at present and can accommodate around 100 people with up to two people per room and sharing communal bathrooms

It is understood Channel migrants will be processed in the UK and officials will decide whether they are a genuine asylum seeker.

If they are deemed to be economic migrants, they will be sent to Rwanda, where schemes will be put in place to help them build a new life.

It is thought that in other cases, all asylum processing will take place after the claimant arrives in Rwanda. Britain will pay the costs of their resettlement. 

A source told the Telegraph that the British Army would be involved to prevent ‘battles on the quayside’, adding: ‘They will drive you to the airport and send you straight to Rwanda’.

The Refugee Council charity was among those to urge an immediate rethink of the plan, with chief executive Enver Solomon saying it would not work and would cost the taxpayer around £1.4billion a year as part of the while asylum system.

The United Nations refugee agency also expressed concern over the ‘shifting rather than the sharing of responsibilities’.

Labour and Mr Johnson’s Tory critics claimed it was an expensive move to switch attention away from the Partygate row which continues to embarrass No10. 

At a press conference today, Priti Patel said the agreement with Rwanda ‘fully complies with all international and national law’.

She said the deal is ‘in keeping with our vision for global Britain that harnesses the potential for new relationships, and stimulates investments and jobs in partner countries’.

Home Secretary added: ‘Working together, the United Kingdom and Rwanda will help make the immigration system fairer, ensure that people are safe and enjoy new opportunities to flourish.’

She said people who enter the UK ‘illegally will be considered for relocation’ to have their claims decided, adding: ‘Those who are resettled will be given the support, including up to five years of training with the help of integration, accommodation, healthcare, so that they can resettle and thrive.’

She added that the UK is making a ‘substantial investment in the economic development of Rwanda’ which aims to develop the country’s economy and support its people. 

‘This is very much, number one, a partnership,’ she said. ‘Clearly we engage in dialogue and we have been for over nine months now.

‘But Rwanda has a very unique history in terms of refugees and resettlement, resettlement in particular. First and foremost, Rwanda is a safe and secure country with the respect for the rule of law, and clearly a range of institutions that have evolved and developed over time.

‘If I may say so, Rwanda has been very forward leaning, and has been very dynamic in the conversations that we have had as well around, yes, economic growth and the partnership, but respect for people and giving them the ability to find new opportunities, but effectively restart their lives, rebuild careers, potentially, and settle here successfully.’ 

First look at UK’s first ‘Greek-style asylum centre’: Abandoned Yorkshire RAF base inspired by Greece which holds migrants in shipping-style containers and subjects them to checks on their movements and curfews

An abandoned RAF base in a tiny North Yorkshire village will soon be used to house asylum seekers for up to six months in shipping-style containers and subject them to checks on movements and curfews.  

The decision to use Linton-on-Ouse – population 1,200 – comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to unveil a new hardline immigration policy.

It will see asylum seekers flown 4,000 miles away to Rwanda to have their claims processed following a £120 million deal with the African country.

In the UK migrants will be held in ‘Greek-style reception centres’, the first of which will be built at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

Channel migrants will have to stick to strict rules or else they could lose their right to asylum.  

Home Secretary Priti Patel is modelling the centre on Greek asylum camps where migrants undergo routine checks of their movements and have curfews.   

‘If they breach the rules, it could affect their asylum claim,’ said a UK government source to the Telegraph. 

‘You would be told that you would have to be in by this time. That’s fair rules for operating if you provide food and accommodation. The Greeks have things like timings.’  

The decision to use Linton-on-Ouse - population 1,200 - comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to unveil a new hardline immigration policy

The decision to use Linton-on-Ouse – population 1,200 – comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to unveil a new hardline immigration policy

It will see asylum seekers flown 4,000 miles away to Rwanda to have their claims processed following a £120 million deal with the African country. Pictured: Linton-on-Ouse

It will see asylum seekers flown 4,000 miles away to Rwanda to have their claims processed following a £120 million deal with the African country. Pictured: Linton-on-Ouse  

An abandoned RAF base in a tiny North Yorkshire village will soon be used to house asylum seekers for up to six months

An abandoned RAF base in a tiny North Yorkshire village will soon be used to house asylum seekers for up to six months

In the UK migrants will be held in 'Greek-style reception centres', the first of which will be built at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Pictured: Migrant container camp in Kleedi in Greece

In the UK migrants will be held in ‘Greek-style reception centres’, the first of which will be built at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Pictured: Migrant container camp in Kleedi in Greece

Pictured: Migrant shipping containers in Kleedi, Greece

Pictured: Migrant shipping containers in Kleedi, Greece 

A migrant camp in Kleedi, Greece, where shipping containers are used

A migrant camp in Kleedi, Greece, where shipping containers are used 

It is understood local residents were not briefed or consulted on the plans, which came to light this week. 

The village has been left feeling ‘like a ghost town’ since the withdrawal of air force personnel over the last three years.

The RAF base has lain empty since 2020, when the Ministry of Defence announced it would no longer be actively using the site.

It was expected to be sold in the coming years, but the government has now revealed a new use for the 680-acre facility.

Accommodation for asylum seekers will be set up, while a processing centre will also be built.

Initially, it will house migrants who arrive in the UK on boats, although Thirsk and Malton’ Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake has also proposed that the site is also opened to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war with Russia.

A general view of a registration and hospitality center for refugees and migrants, known as a hotspot, on the southeastern Greek island of Leros

A general view of a registration and hospitality center for refugees and migrants, known as a hotspot, on the southeastern Greek island of Leros

Pictured: An asylum centre on the southeastern Greek island of Leros that is filled with shipping containers

Pictured: An asylum centre on the southeastern Greek island of Leros that is filled with shipping containers 

A reception centre for asylum seekers on the Greek island of Leros

A reception centre for asylum seekers on the Greek island of Leros 

In a statement, Mr Hollinrake said: ‘I have recently met with the Immigration Minister following the announcement the RAF site at Linton-on-Ouse will be used as an asylum seeker accommodation and processing centre. It forms part of increase in capacity measure to deliver more timely decisions.

‘I appreciate my constituents may have a number of questions about this site, but it is important to note these claims must be processed somewhere and in a humane and managed manner.

‘I want to assure constituents I will be working closely with the Home Office on this throughout.

‘It is crucial that those being processed are housed in suitable and appropriate settings, with recreation and social facilities to enable those individuals to live as normal a life as possible.

‘I have been assured the time limit for any asylum seekers to remain the site will be 180 days and I have ensured the Minister is clear this must be stuck to, to ensure those waiting for decisions are not unduly delayed.’

Mr Hollinrake added that he is in discussions with the government about how to minimise ‘disturbance’ to local residents in the small village.

It is anticipated that up to 300 jobs could be created on the RAF base, including ‘a number of new business opportunities in catering and other areas’.

Mr Hollinrake said: ‘There are a number of conditions I wanted to ensure were considered in advance of the site opening.

‘I have made it clear the local community must be at the heart of these plans, prioritising those in the area for any jobs which may be required at the site.’

‘I have spoken to other members of parliament who already have similar facilities in their areas. Initial concerns around disturbance to local communities has not been borne out in practice, so hopefully this will be the case here also.

‘I have also asked the Minister if he can consider opening the site up to Ukrainian refugees, given the heartwarming response from Thirsk and Malton constituents to the crisis.

‘I will keep constituents updated with any further developments.’

There are concerns about the new Rwandan immigration policy considering the country’s human rights record.

According to the campaign group Human Rights Watch, ‘arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture in official and unofficial detention facilities is commonplace, and fair trial standards are routinely flouted in many sensitive political cases, in which security-related charges are often used to prosecute prominent government critics. Arbitrary detention and mistreatment of street children, sex workers and petty vendors occurs widely.’

It comes as Boris Johnson ordered the Royal Navy to police the English Channel and stop small boats from today.   

The Prime Minister ordered warships to take over from the Border Force as the latest wave of arrivals from France were pictured landing in Kent.

Speaking just a few miles away he hailed the UK as a ‘beacon of openness’ before confirming an agreement with Rwanda to send boat people 4,000 miles to the east African nation – in many cases permanently.

In a speech this morning the Prime Minister invoked the spirit of Brexit as he unveiled the £120million scheme, saying: ‘The British people voted several times to control our borders.’

He said that while the UK’s compassion may be ‘endless’, its capacity to host people was not, adding: ‘We cannot expect the UK taxpayer to write a black cheque.’

The Prime Minister ordered warships to take over from the Border Force as the latest wave of arrivals from France were pictured landing in Kent.

The Prime Minister ordered warships to take over from the Border Force as the latest wave of arrivals from France were pictured landing in Kent.

In a speech this morning the Prime Minister invoked the spirit of Brexit as he unveiled the £120million scheme , saying: 'The British people voted several times to control our borders.'

In a speech this morning the Prime Minister invoked the spirit of Brexit as he unveiled the £120million scheme , saying: ‘The British people voted several times to control our borders.’

Ministers have struck a ‘world-first’ deal with the government of Paul Kigame to host economic migrants. Home Secretary Priti Patel arrived in Rwandan capital Kigali last night and is due to sign a five-year agreement today.   

Officials believe the agreement to ‘off-shore’ the processing of asylum seekers will deter thousands of migrants from crossing the Channel in dinghies, saving lives and cutting off income from the criminal gangs that control the trade. 

But the plan has already faced a massive backlash, with claims that it is both cruel and expensive. Rwanda is best known in the west for a 1994 ethnic genocide that left up to 800,000 Tutsi people dead and it still has a mixed human rights records.

Amnesty International says there are still concerns over ‘enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force’. Earlier this month the Refugee Minister Lord Harrington said there was ‘no possibility’ of migrants being sent there.

But Mr Johnson today branded it ‘dynamic’ and one of the safest countries in the world. And answering questions in Kigali, Ms Patel said the country had an ‘established record of welcoming and integrating people’.

Speaking at a press conference she said the African country had ‘one of the strongest records for refugee resettlement’ and, in recent years, had resettled more than 130,000 refugees. 

Speaking in Kent he said that while the UK's compassion may be 'endless', its capacity to host people was not, adding: 'We cannot expect the UK taxpayer to write a black cheque.'

Speaking in Kent he said that while the UK’s compassion may be ‘endless’, its capacity to host people was not, adding: ‘We cannot expect the UK taxpayer to write a black cheque.’

It is understood Channel migrants will be processed in the UK and officials will decide whether they are a genuine asylum seeker. If they are deemed to be economic migrants, they will be sent to Rwanda, where schemes will be put in place to help them build a new life. 

It is thought that in other cases, all asylum processing will take place after the claimant arrives in Rwanda. Britain will pay the costs of their resettlement.

A source told the Telegraph that the British Army would be involved to prevent ‘battles on the quayside’, adding: ‘They will drive you to the airport and send you straight to Rwanda’.  

The Refugee Council charity was among those to urge an immediate rethink of the plan, with chief executive Enver Solomon saying it would not work and would cost the taxpayer around £1.4billion a year as part of the while asylum system.

The United Nations refugee agency also expressed concern over the ‘shifting rather than the sharing of responsibilities’. 

In a speech this morning the Prime Minister will invoked the spirit of Brexit as he unveils a £120million scheme to send men who cross from France in small boats to East Africa, saying: 'The British people voted several times to control our borders.'

In a speech this morning the Prime Minister will invoked the spirit of Brexit as he unveils a £120million scheme to send men who cross from France in small boats to East Africa, saying: ‘The British people voted several times to control our borders.’

Labour and Mr Johnson’s Tory critics claimed it was an expensive move to switch attention away from the Partygate row which continues to embarrass No10. 

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, told the Guardian it was a ‘shameful announcement meant to distract from Boris Johnson’s recent law-breaking.

‘It is an unworkable, unethical and extortionate policy that would cost the UK taxpayer billions of pounds during a cost of living crisis and would make it harder, not easier, to get fast and fair asylum decisions,’ she said. 

Conservative former minister Andrew Mitchell said housing asylum seekers at the Ritz hotel would be cheaper than offshoring, claiming the cost to the British taxpayer would be £2million per person, per year.  

Mr Johnson criticised the ‘rank unfairness’ of the current asylum system, which he claimed is being exploited by men entering via small boat crossings at the expense of women and children.

Speaking at Lydd Airport near Dungeness, the Prime Minister said: ‘Our compassion may be infinite but our capacity to help people is not. We can’t ask the British taxpayer to write a blank cheque to cover the costs of anyone who might want to come and live here.

‘Uncontrolled immigration creates unmanageable demands on our NHS and on our welfare state, it overstretches our local schools, our housing and public transport and creates unsustainable pressure to build on precious green spaces.

‘Nor is it fair on those who are seeking to come here legally if others can bypass the system. It’s a striking fact that around seven out of 10 of those arriving in small boats last year were men under 40 paying people smugglers to queue jump and taking up our capacity to help genuine women and child refugees.

‘This is particularly perverse as those attempting crossings are not directly fleeing imminent peril, as is the intended purpose of the asylum system. They pass through manifestly safe countries including many in Europe where they could and should claim asylum.

‘It’s this rank unfairness of a system that can be exploited by gangs which risks eroding public support for the whole concept of asylum.’ 

Priti to face down migrant backlash: She’s braced for legal challenge from human rights lawyers and Left over new Rwanda deal

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent in Kigali, Rwanda 

Ministers are determined to face down what is likely to be a fierce backlash over the plans to tackle the issue of cross-Channel migration. 

Sources said Home Secretary Priti Patel has been ‘working night and day’ for the last eight months on the agreement with Rwanda, announced tomorrow. 

It will see asylum seekers sent to the East African nation for processing or, in some cases, if they are ruled to be economic migrants rather than genuine refugees. 

In short, it is designed to have a deterrent effect, and to stop migrants from attempting to enter the UK in the first place.

The Rwanda deal comes after a number of other locations for offshore processing were said to be under consideration by the Home Office. 

Sources said Home Secretary Priti Patel has been ‘working night and day’ for the last eight months on the agreement with Rwanda, announced tomorrow.

Sources said Home Secretary Priti Patel has been ‘working night and day’ for the last eight months on the agreement with Rwanda, announced tomorrow.

Ghana and Albania were mooted, along with disused North Sea oil platforms and decommissioned ferries off the UK coast. Ascension Island, part of a UK overseas territory almost 4,500 miles away in the South Atlantic, was also suggested last month. 

Offshoring asylum seekers will be highly controversial, and even Tory backbenchers have questioned the expense. 

Last month Conservative former minister Andrew Mitchell said housing asylum seekers at the Ritz hotel would be cheaper than offshoring, claiming the cost to the British taxpayer would be £2million per person, per year. 

Ministers are also braced for a legal challenge from human rights lawyers – as well as political opposition from Labour and the Left. 

Flows of migrants across the Channel have seemed an insoluble challenge since numbers began to rise four years ago. 

Last year a record 28,500 migrants reached British shores aboard dinghies and small boats, with trends appearing to rise yet further so far this year. Ministers will now attempt a different approach – with a complex international agreement that has taken two years to secure. 

Last year a record 28,500 migrants reached British shores aboard dinghies and small boats, with trends appearing to rise yet further so far this year

Last year a record 28,500 migrants reached British shores aboard dinghies and small boats, with trends appearing to rise yet further so far this year

In a speech tomorrow, Boris Johnson will defend the new plan, saying that the Government has to control illegal immigration. 

‘We cannot sustain a parallel illegal system. Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not,’ he will say. 

‘The British people voted several times to control our borders, not to close them, but to control them. 

‘So just as Brexit allowed us to take back control of legal immigration by replacing free movement with our points-based system, we are also taking back control of illegal immigration, with a long-term plan for asylum in this country.’ 

The Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill will grant the Home Secretary new legal powers to process asylum seekers overseas. 

The Bill is yet to complete its final stages in Parliament, and earlier this year the House of Lords voted to remove the offshoring powers, only for them to be later re-instated by a Commons vote. 

‘We cannot sustain a parallel illegal system. Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not,’ the Prime Minister is expected to say

‘We cannot sustain a parallel illegal system. Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not,’ the Prime Minister is expected to say

A group of people thought to be migrants are are guided up the beach after being brought in to Dungeness, Kent, on March 24

A group of people thought to be migrants are are guided up the beach after being brought in to Dungeness, Kent, on March 24

Tonight, the initial reaction from charities suggested they would bitterly oppose the plans. 

Enver Solomon, of the Refugee Council, said: ‘We are appalled by the Government’s cruel and nasty decision to send those seeking sanctuary in our country to Rwanda. 

‘Offshoring the UK’s asylum system will do absolutely nothing to address the reasons why people take perilous journeys to find safety in the UK. 

‘It will do little to deter them from coming to this country, but only lead to more human suffering and chaos.’ 

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, said the ‘shockingly ill-conceived idea will go far further in inflicting suffering while wasting huge amounts of public money’. 

Rwanda, with a population of 13million, needs more workers and has in recent years resettled more than 100,000 refugees. In a different approach, the European Union is developing a network of accommodation centre for asylum seekers on a number of Greek islands. 

The first £37million facility, on Samos, opened in September and can house 3,000 people in rows of container-style accommodation units. 

Elsewhere, Home Office officials have closely studied a similar scheme for offshore processing which is being set up by Denmark. 

Danish parliamentarians have approved a change to their law which would allow asylum applications to be considered in a third country. Last year there were reports that it was looking at signing an agreement with the Rwandan government.

Luxury life of ‘despot’ blamed for rights abuses

By Tom Witherow for the Daily Mail

The president of Rwanda has won plaudits from former prime ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron despite being branded a ‘despot’ and blamed for human rights abuses. 

Paul Kagame, 64, has sold Rwanda as a success story in the developing world over three decades. 

He has courted foreign leaders and royalty – including a 2020 meeting with Prince William at Buckingham Palace – to win praise as a dynamic and progressive president. 

His government has also spent millions of pounds brushing up Rwanda’s image by sponsoring Premier League team Arsenal. 

But critics claim he is guilty of murderous authoritarianism which has enabled him to remain in power for 28 years.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and His Wife Jeannette

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and His Wife Jeannette

He led the militia groups who ended the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which saw more than 500,000 people massacred. 

Then US President Bill Clinton said Kagame was ‘one of the greatest leaders of our time’, Lord Blair called him a ‘visionary’, and Mr Cameron said his regime was a ‘role model for development’. 

But in recent years negative stories have over-shadowed his country’s economic success. 

Last December, Paul Rusesabagina – the inspiration for the hero character in Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda – was sentenced to 25 years in prison for allegedly founding a terrorist group. 

Rwanda president Paul Kagame with Arsenal legend Tony Adams in 2014

Rwanda president Paul Kagame with Arsenal legend Tony Adams in 2014

His family branded it a show trial. The former hotel boss-turned-opposition leader had been praised for shielding thousands of potential genocide victims in 1994. 

But he criticised Rwanda’s human rights abuses after Kagame came to power. 

Kagame’s intelligence services have also been suspected of killing critics abroad, but none of the allegations has been proven. 

When arch-critic Colonel Patrick Karegeya was murdered in a hotel in South Africa in 2014, Kagame said: ‘When you choose to live like a dog, you die like a dog.’ 

A recent book claimed the Metropolitan Police provided protection for Rwandan opposition figures threatened in London. 

Kagame is known for his luxurious lifestyle and travels in a £50million executive jet and an armour-plated Range Rover worth an estimated £300,000. 

His son Ivan sits on the board of Rwanda’s investment agency and lives in a £5million Beverly Hills mansion.

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