One in five asylum seekers on Rwanda deportation list is from Afghanistan, charity says

Care4Calais says the government’s rounding up of asylum seekers for deportation to Rwanda was ‘deeply worrying’

Jane Dalton
Friday 03 May 2024 23:27 BST
Home Office detain first set of migrants to be deported to Rwanda

One in five asylum seekers due to be deported to Rwanda is from Afghanistan, according to a charity supporting the refugees.

Care4Calais says that from the first group it has contacted, 18 per cent were Afghans and another one in five – 21 per cent – were Syrians.

It’s not known whether the Afghans found by the charity included workers who supported the British armed forces overseas, such as interpreters and pilots.

On Wednesday ministers released pictures of the first asylum seekers being rounded up for deportation to Rwanda after a controversial bill legalising such flights finally obtained royal assent last week.

The House of Lords fought to have Afghans who supported British forces exempted from the legislation, but ultimately lost when it was forced to give way to the government in parliamentary “ping-pong”.

People protest against the Rwanda deportation bill outside Downing Street
People protest against the Rwanda deportation bill outside Downing Street (Getty Images)

The Independent has campaigned for these war heroes to be granted leave to remain in the UK.

Care4Calais also said 15 per cent of the first cohort were Sudanese, while Eritreans and Iranians each accounted for 14 per cent.

The remaining 18 per cent included Kuwaitis, Iraqis and Sri Lankans.

Home Office immigration officers began detaining potential deportees on Monday at their homes or as they arrived at immigration centres, although the first flights are not due to depart until July.

Around 800 officers are being deployed in Operation Vector, and home secretary James Cleverly said they were working “at pace”.

Care4Calais said that from the first people it was in contact with, it was clear that those detained were predominantly from countries with a high rate of asylum granted by the UK.

Hannah Marwood, head of legal access, said: “The government’s actions during this election week have been deeply worrying, but we are relieved that a significant number of people detained are now in contact with our caseworkers who will ensure they have access to legal support.

“The people detained have not had their asylum claims processed, and it’s clear from the first cohort we are in contact with that if their claims were processed they would likely be granted refugee status in the UK.

“It reaffirms how shameful the Rwanda plan is and why it must be stopped.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have proven time and again that Rwanda is a safe country, most recently with our landmark Safety of Rwanda Act and joint, legally binding treaty which makes clear that individuals relocated to Rwanda will not be returned to an unsafe country.

“We remain confident in the country’s strong and successful track record in resettling people and are working at pace to get flights off the ground to Rwanda in the next to nine to eleven weeks.”

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