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UK’s Home Office Lacks Credible Plan for Rwanda Asylum Scheme, Committee Says

UK's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson greets the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame in London in 2018 [File: Aaron Chown via Reuters]

NAIROBI – The Home Office does not have a credible plan to implement its contentious Rwanda scheme for asylum seekers, a cross-party parliamentary committee has reported.

In a highly critical assessment, the Public Accounts Committee accused the government’s accommodation plan of falling “woefully short of reality.” The report highlighted significant financial overruns, including one site that cost ten times more than its initial £5 million estimate.

To date, the government has spent £310 million on the Rwanda scheme. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated that no flights will take place before the upcoming polling day. According to the National Audit Office, £290 million of the total expenditure has been allocated to Rwanda.

These costs are in addition to the substantial funds already being spent on housing over 50,000 asylum seekers in the UK. This follows a government decision last year to halt the processing of asylum applications, which would have determined if individuals should be recognized as refugees and allowed to work.

The Home Office initiated the detention of asylum seekers for prospective Rwanda flights last month. However, immigration judges have begun releasing some detainees due to uncertainties surrounding the flight schedule.

In their report, published as part of the parliamentary business wind-up, MPs criticized the Home Office, stating it has little to show for the substantial financial investment thus far.

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