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UK Aims To Reclaim Funds From Scrapped Rwanda Scheme

THE UK government announced the termination of the controversial Rwanda deportation scheme, a decision aimed at reallocating funds to strengthen border security and tackle illegal immigration. A spokesperson from Downing Street (the prime minister’s office) confirmed that any savings from the scrapped plan would be redirected to establish a new Border Security Command dedicated to addressing small boat crossings in the English Channel.

The Rwanda deportation scheme, introduced by the previous Conservative government, was designed to deter illegal Channel crossings by sending some migrants to the East African nation. However, the initiative faced numerous legal challenges and no migrants were relocated before the recent election.

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The Home Office had committed substantial financial resources to the scheme, including a £240 million payment to Rwanda by the end of 2023. These funds were intended to support Rwanda’s economic growth and cover the costs associated with processing and relocating individuals. With the plan now terminated, some future payments tied to the number of relocated individuals will no longer be made.

Rwanda’s government responded to the UK’s decision with a statement: ‘This partnership was initiated by the UK to address the crisis of irregular migration—a problem of the UK, not Rwanda. Rwanda has fully upheld its side of the agreement, including financial commitments, and remains dedicated to finding solutions to the global migration crisis, ensuring safety, dignity, and opportunities for refugees and migrants who come to our country.’

Earlier this year, Rwandan President Paul Kagame suggested that some funds might be returned if no migrants were sent to Rwanda, the BBC reported. The Rwandan government later stated it would consider any refund requests from the UK but emphasised there was no obligation to do so, according to the BBC.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer confirmed the termination of the scheme, describing it as ‘dead and buried before it started.’ He also announced that the last two migrants detained for deportation to Rwanda would be granted bail in the coming days, adding to the 218 migrants released on bail by the previous government during the election campaign.

The Labour Party, which criticised the scheme as an expensive ‘gimmick,’ has pledged to set up a new Border Security Command. This unit will integrate Border Force officials, police, and intelligence agencies, utilizing counter-terrorism powers to combat people-smuggling gangs.

Illegal immigration remains a significant challenge for the new government. Over 13,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats this year, surpassing the numbers for the same period last year, despite an overall decline in crossings in 2023 compared to 2022.

By focusing on a more comprehensive and effective border security strategy, the UK government aims to address the ongoing migration crisis and ensure a more secure and controlled approach to managing illegal immigration.

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