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UK begins rounding up Rwanda deportees

The UK has begun detaining asylum seekers for deportation to Rwanda following the passage of a highly controversial immigration law last month. The number of people taken into custody so far is unknown, but the detentions began on 1 May. The UK government says it has booked commercial charter planes in preparation for the first deportations to Rwanda, which it expects to begin in 10 to 12 weeks. The government is aiming to send around 5,700 asylum seekers as part of the scheme this year. 

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and human rights groups have slammed the UK for attempting to further shift the responsibility for hosting asylum seekers and refugees to countries outside of Europe. Worldwide, nearly 90% of forcibly displaced people live in low- and middle-income countries. 

The deportation of asylum seekers and migrants is part of an effort to try to stop people from crossing the English Channel in small boats to seek protection in the UK. The number of people arriving in the UK this way in recent years has ranged from just under 10,000 in 2020 to around 45,000 in 2022. The UK has also implemented other harsh policies aimed at deterring people from seeking asylum in the country. 

A civil society group in the UK has warned that unaccompanied children are among those at risk of being deported to Rwanda because some have been wrongfully classified as adults. For more, read: How European countries wrongfully classify children seeking asylum as adults

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