The British government has begun notifying those likely to be relocated, with the first flights expected to take place in the coming months, Britain’s Home Office said in a statement.
Billed as an attempt to disrupt the business model of people-smuggling gangs, the plan raised concerns about Rwanda’s human rights record, which the British government itself flagged last year.
“According to the information we have, the first batch of migrants will arrive at the end of the month, but… it is the British government that knows how many will come and when they will arrive,” said Rwandan deputy government spokesman Alain Mukurarinda. saying.
“Once they get their (asylum seeker) status, they will go live with other Rwandans. They will be free. They will not be prisoners,” Mukurarinda said.
Last year, more than 28,000 migrants and refugees crossed from mainland Europe to Britain in dilapidated boats. Britain has said the plan to send people to Rwanda would initially cost 120 million pounds ($158 million).
“The UK’s decision to go ahead with deportations of asylum seekers to Rwanda is an affront to its international obligations and just plain cruel,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch.
On Thursday, the Rwandan government took journalists on a tour of shelters being adapted to house the migrants.
Full bed and board will cost the UK government 72,000 Rwandan francs ($71) per person per day at Hope Guesthouse, said Ismail Bakina, the property’s manager.