According to an analysis of government figures, less than 200 people who came to the UK without permission were sent to Rwanda last year.
The Refugee Council said 172 people could have been sent to the East African country if a deal had been struck. He estimates that this year the number should not be much higher.
The figures cast doubt on Boris Johnson’s claim that ‘tens of thousands’ of people who arrived in the UK without permission could be given a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
Those eligible for deportation to Rwanda will be those deemed “inadmissible” under the rules of the UK asylum system. The rules, introduced in January 2021, apply to those who have arrived in the UK via another “safe” country, such as France, and their claim for asylum is therefore considered their responsibility.
So far, only 2% of those considered under the rules are ultimately served with decisions classifying them as inadmissible, according to Home Office figures unearthed by the Refugee Council.
Of the 8,593 people considered under the rules by the Home Office last year, only 172 would be deemed inadmissible, according to the analysis.
Johnson said this month he expected many people to be airlifted 4,500 miles to Rwanda. “The agreement we have reached is not capped and Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the coming years,” he said.
Government plans to punish people who have been forced to make irregular journeys to Britain could lead to thousands of asylum seekers being convicted and jailed.
Under the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is in its final stages through Parliament, analysis suggests that 19,288 people could be convicted and imprisoned each year for arriving in the UK via a route irregular.
The proposal was widely condemned as inhumane, illegal, impractical and prohibitively expensive. Critics have included Tory MPs and their peers, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said in his Easter Sunday sermon that the scheme ‘does not stand the judgment of God”.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “This analysis shows the real impact this Bill will have on desperate men, women and children who are simply trying to find safety from the dangers of war and of persecution.
“Punishing people, treating them like criminals and human cargoes to be deported to Rwanda is not only inhumane, cruel and wicked, but it will do nothing to address the reasons why people undertake perilous journeys to find safety in UK. It won’t do much to deter them from coming to this country, but will only lead to more human suffering and chaos – at a huge potential cost of almost £1 billion every year.
The bill, if passed, will create a new criminal offense which will apply to anyone who is intercepted in the English Channel without prior permission to enter the UK. Those prosecuted under the new law could face prison terms of up to four years.
The Refugee Council used figures from the Home Office and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to estimate that up to 19,288 people could be convicted and imprisoned each year under the changes. He estimated the cost of prosecuting and imprisoning them could be as high as £835m a year.
The estimate is based on the number of people who crossed the Channel last year, the assumption that the government would seek to prosecute anyone arriving illegally and a conviction rate of 69% over the past five years for offenses similar under applicable law.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘This Global Partnership for Migration and Economic Development will overhaul our broken asylum system, which is currently costing the UK taxpayer £1.5billion a year – the the highest amount for two decades.
“Under this agreement, Rwanda will process applications in accordance with national and international human rights laws. This means that those who arrive dangerously, illegally or unnecessarily can be relocated to have their asylum claims considered and, if recognized as refugees, build their lives there.
“We do not recognize the numbers from this analysis. The agreement is not capped in terms of the number of people who can be sent to Rwanda.