UK sends first asylum seeker to Rwanda, plans to deport nearly 6,000 migrants this year

Britain has sent a first asylum seeker to Rwanda, British media reported on Tuesday, a week after adopting a controversial law allowing irregular migrants to be deported to the east African country.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government has made the fight against illegal migration a priority as it hopes to recover ground on the main opposition Labour party ahead of an expected general election later this year.

The man who left the UK on Monday had agreed to be sent to Kigali following his asylum rejection, several media said.

The UK expects to deport nearly 6,000 migrants to Rwanda this year, a senior minister said Tuesday, after the government published new details on the controversial scheme.

The figures come days after the plan aimed at deterring migrant arrivals on small boats from northern Europe became law following months of parliamentary wrangling.

Rwanda has "in principle" agreed to accept 5,700 migrants already in the UK, the interior ministry revealed late Monday.

Of those, 2,143 "can be located for detention" before being flown there, according to the ministry.

Law enforcement agencies will find the remainder, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said Tuesday when asked about the 5,700 earmarked for deportation.

"The expectation is that we remove that group of people [...] by the end of the year," she told Sky News television.

"If somebody doesn't report as they should do [...] They will be found."

If approved, they will be allowed to stay in Rwanda and not return to the UK.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
Rwandan opposition deplores UK deportation deal as 'modern slavery'
UK Parliament approves controversial Rwanda deportation bill
Rwanda marks 30 years since genocide that horrified the world