Home Office asking civil servants to move to Rwanda

The Rwanda bill finally became an act of parliament on Thursday after months of pushback and debate

Athena Stavrou
Saturday 27 April 2024 01:45 BST
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Rwanda bill won't deter people from crossing, migrant says

The UK Home Office has asked civil servants to apply for jobs relocating them to Rwanda to help oversee their controversial deportation plan.

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill finally became an act of parliament on Thursday after months of pushback and debate.

Campaigners have already called for the law, and other sweeping asylum reforms introduced by the government, to be repealed – warning they could cause a “system meltdown” costing the taxpayer billions of pounds.

However, plans are being pushed ahead, with the Home Office reportedly advertising for people in the asylum decision-making team in the UK to move overseas.

The move to Kigali is set to be as early as next month in order to offer assistance to Rwandan officials dealing with asylum claims, the i reported.

The move to Kigali is set to be as early as next month
The move to Kigali is set to be as early as next month (PA)

The paper added that civil servants were being recruited prior to the bill being passed on Monday night as one source told them that the application process was “rushed” with just one week to apply.

Staff are to be posted in Rwanda for weeks at a time on a rota basis.

It is unclear how many members of staff will be transferred but the i reported that up to four team leaders, decision-makers, technical support officers and policy workers will be sent.

Despite major pushback, the prime minister has staked his reputation on his pledge to “stop the boats”.

He has described the Rwanda plan as an “indispensable deterrent”, despite it being plagued by a series of setbacks since the deal was signed two years ago.

Rishi Sunak has made stopping the boats a key pledge
Rishi Sunak has made stopping the boats a key pledge (PA Wire)

The law declares Rwanda is a safe country and seeks to ensure the scheme – ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court – is legally watertight.

Officials are now working to put the plan into action, with Mr Sunak suggesting the first plane carrying asylum seekers could depart in July.

It has sparked criticism from international leaders including French president Emmanuel Macron, who denounced Mr Sunak’s deportation plan as the politics of “cynicism” and a betrayal of European values.

Mr Macron also warned it would be “ineffective”, just days after the scheme – designed to give thousands a one-way ticket to the African country – was approved.

Fran Heathcote, general secretary of the PCS union which represents civil servants, said: “This chaotic implementation of a chaotic policy is symptomatic of a chaotic government.

“We were not consulted about our members being expected to go to Rwanda to work. We’ll be raising issues with the Home Office about our members’ welfare if they travel to Rwanda, where they’ll be living, how they’re managed, who’s managing them, which jurisdiction do they come under – the UK or Rwanda?”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting the government of Rwanda in its implementation of our Treaty, which was ratified and came into force this week.

“Staff working on the Rwanda scheme are given all the support and training necessary to carry out their role. As the Prime Minister has made clear, we will get flights off the ground to Rwanda in the next ten-twelve weeks.”

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