UK aims to recover money used in scrapped Rwanda scheme

The government will carefully examine which funds can be recovered after the Rwanda deportation scheme scrapped, according to Downing Street. A spokesperson for No 10 stated that any savings would be allocated to a new Border Security Command aimed at addressing small boat crossings.

The Rwandan government asserted that it had “fully upheld its side of the agreement.” The scheme, introduced by the Conservatives, intended to deter small boat crossings in the Channel by relocating some individuals who arrived in the UK illegally to Rwanda. However, legal challenges delayed the plan, and no migrants were sent there before the election.

Under the scheme, the Home Office agreed to contribute to a fund for Rwanda’s economic growth and cover additional costs for processing and relocating individuals. By the end of 2023, the UK had paid £220 million to Rwanda. Future payments linked to the number of individuals relocated will not be made.

In a statement, the Rwandan government emphasized that the partnership was initiated by the UK to address its irregular migration crisis, not Rwanda’s. They reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement, including financial aspects, and their dedication to finding solutions to the global migration crisis by offering safety, dignity, and opportunities to refugees and migrants.

Earlier this year, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame suggested the possibility of returning some funds if no individuals were relocated. The Rwandan government later stated they would consider any UK request for refunds but were not obligated to do so.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer confirmed the scheme’s termination, describing it as “dead and buried before it started.” The government also announced that the last two migrants detained for relocation to Rwanda would be released on bail, following the release of 218 migrants by the previous government during the election campaign.

Labour criticized the plan as an expensive “gimmick” and pledged to establish a new Border Security Command, integrating Border Force officials, police, and intelligence agencies, and using counter-terror powers to combat people-smuggling gangs, after Rawanda scheme is scrapped.

Illegal immigration remains a significant challenge for the new government. Over 13,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats this year, a figure higher than the same period last year, although there was an overall decrease in 2023 compared to 2022.

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