British Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Rwanda on Saturday to discuss a deal under which the east African country would take in migrants arriving in Britain without permits if British courts confirm the proposals are legal.
The British government plans to send tens of thousands of migrants more than 4,000 miles to Rwanda as part of a £120 million ($146 million) deal struck with Rwanda last year.
No deportations took place, while activists challenged the legality of this policy in court. Many charity organizations say the proposal is costly and impractical and would criminalize thousands of genuine refugees who have very few opportunities to seek asylum in the UK without setting foot in the country.
According to the British government, more than 45,000 people crossed the English Channel from France to Britain in small boats last year, mostly young people from Albania, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.
Braverman met with Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Vincent Perotta on Saturday and told reporters in Kigali she had agreed to provide additional support for migrants being sent into the country.
“Many countries around the world are grappling with unprecedented numbers of illegal migrants and I sincerely believe that this world-leading partnership … is both humanitarian and compassionate and also fair and balanced,” Braverman said at a news conference with Biruta.
London’s High Court ruled in December it was legal, but opponents are looking to challenge the decision in April and it could be referred to the UK High Court later this year.
“I will not prejudge the court’s decision, but if we are successful, we intend to deliver the terms of our agreement as soon as possible,” Braverman said.
Braverman had previously described her opponents as “naive do-gooders”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said finding a solution is one of his top priorities for 2023. Britain spends more than £2 billion a year taking in migrants and has offered $95 million to take them to countries like Rwanda.