Thousands of illegal migrants set for deportation from UK to Rwanda remain unlocated

On 15 January 2024 at 02:27

The UK Home Office has reported that thousands of migrants, who entered the country illegally and were slated for deportation to Rwanda, are currently unaccounted for.

Ministry records indicate that out of the 5,000 individuals intended for transfer, only about 700 can be located at present.

Officials estimate that the first flight could carry between 100 and 150 people, depending on the whereabouts of those still unaccounted for.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that transfers are scheduled to commence early this year, pending legislative approval.

The proposed bill seeks to eliminate specific legal barriers related to the UK’s policy with Rwanda and make amendments to aspects of human rights law. This would grant ministers the authority to override judgments from European courts.

However, the bill faced criticism last week from 50 MPs, who called for a reassessment and reforms to strengthen it.

Initially planned for June 2022, the transfer was halted by the European Court of Human Rights.

The primary challenge faced by the ministry remains locating the majority of the concerned migrants. Additionally, the transportation process from reception centers to planes is complicated by various obstacles, including protests, adverse weather conditions, and resistance from those responsible for monitoring and escorting migrants.

Suggestions have arisen that the Home Office could use Ministry of Defence aircraft to expedite the process, but the military has declined involvement in this plan.

Concerns have been raised about Rwanda’s preparedness, especially regarding the availability of lawyers to assist migrants. However, a recent agreement between the two countries aims to address these shortcomings by strengthening Rwanda’s judicial system.

The increasing influx of migrants to the UK and their disappearance before placement in transit centers further complicates the situation, potentially delaying transfers due to insufficient numbers.

Speaking to The Telegraph; Yvette Cooper, a political analyst at the Home Office highlighted numerous challenges in the transfer process. Although 17,000 people were initially expected, many remain unaccounted for.

In December last year, the UK proposed legislation facilitating the sending of migrants to Rwanda, a day after the British Home Secretary signed a new agreement in Kigali.

This agreement, initially signed in 2022, was revised following concerns from the UK Supreme Court regarding the legality of the approach and the risks of returning migrants to their home countries.

The new agreement and the bill aim to address the concerns expressed by the British Supreme Court.