Rwanda will not guarantee the number of migrants it will receive from the UK

  • By Laura Kuenssberg
  • Sunday host with Laura Kuenssberg

Video explanation, Watch: Rwanda cannot guarantee the number of migrants it will receive – official spokesman

The Rwandan government will not guarantee how many migrants it can take from the UK if flights start departing.

Rishi Sunak has promised that migrants who arrive in the UK without permission will be sent to Rwanda rather than being allowed to seek asylum in the UK.

About 52,000 people have arrived in the UK since the law changed in 2023 and are awaiting deportation.

Rwanda has signed a five-year deal with the UK, at an estimated cost of at least £300 million already.

Last month, Parliament approved the Prime Minister’s plans to send the UK some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Sunak said there would be “multiple flights per month over the summer and beyond”.

When Parliament approved the legislation, according to the Home Office, there were 52,000 asylum seekers who could be sent to Rwanda.

Video explanation, The Prime Minister says there is a “high minority” who will try to stop the government’s plans to send migrant seekers to Rwanda.

But Rwandan government spokesman Yolande Maluku told the BBC’s Sunday program with Laura Kuenssberg: “I can’t tell you how many thousands we receive in the first year or in the second year.”

But when asked if Rwanda is able to absorb all the backlogged people at the moment.

“This will depend on many factors that are being worked on now,” Maluku said.

Pressed to make a commitment on how many homes could be given in Rwanda, Ms Makolo said: “We are ready.”

But it did not provide any guarantees that it would be able to receive the 52,000 people the United Kingdom wanted to send, and merely said that the number would be “thousands.”

Ministers have repeatedly said they want the idea of ​​being sent to Rwanda to act as a deterrent to those trying to come to the UK.

But Ms McCullough said Rwanda had been “unfairly attacked”.

“Living in Rwanda is not a punishment,” she added. “It is a beautiful country, including the weather.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper also appeared on the show and was asked if the UK government had a backup plan.

Although he did not answer directly, Harper said the government had “a plan to start flights in 10 to 12 weeks which the Home Office is working on.”

Mr Harper added: “We want a steady rhythm of flights to Rwanda during this year.

“We will continue to work closely with Rwanda on the partnership agreement we have obtained which includes all the guarantees that people want to see.

He added: “I think if you can create a deterrent system through these flights, you will break the business model of organized crime groups who smuggle people through the very dangerous waterway of the English Channel.”

Labour’s Pat Macfadyen told the program he believed the government would succeed in operating flights to Rwanda, but he believed it would not solve the migration problem or provide value for money.

He refused to cancel the plan on the first day of the Labor government, should it win the next general election, but reiterated that the party did not want to continue with Sunak’s policy.

McFadden also said he doubted Labor would work to return any asylum seekers to the UK.

At least nine people, including seven children, were killed in the raid on Mugunga camp in the eastern city of Goma on Friday.

The United States blamed the Rwandan army and the M23 rebel group.

Ms. McCullough said the US government “was too quick to blame us without looking, without investigating this incident, without talking to the people affected.”

“This is something we completely reject and it is unfair,” she added.

  • On this week’s show is the Minister of Transport Mark HarperLabor Party campaign coordinator Pat McFadden The official spokesman for the Government of Rwanda Yolande McCullough
  • Watch live on BBC One and iPlayer from 09:00 GMT on Sunday
  • Follow the latest text and video updates on the BBC News website from 08:30
  • Viewers can send questions or comments to @bbclaurak On the tenth or Instagram And email [email protected]

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