Flights to Rwanda containing desperate asylum seekers are expected to take off today, although some may be returned after legal challenges.
The government hopes the thefts will have a deterrent effect on people coming to the UK across the Channel and target people traffickers, although the numbers do not appear to have fallen since the plans were announced in April .
The outrage among human rights groups, some MPs and sections of the public has been clear and there have been legal challenges to stop the thefts from continuing.
Prince Charles reportedly called the plan “appalling”, while former Prime Minister Theresa May said she could not support it. Others have questioned the choice of Rwanda as a home for those sent abroad because of its record of human rights abuses.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss insisted the government need not worry about the morality of the flights.
She said: “The people who are immoral in this business are the human traffickers who are trading in human misery. These people need to come up with an alternative policy that will work. Our policy is completely legal; it’s completely moral. .”
Where will asylum seekers be sent?
Asylum seekers sent from the UK on charter flights to Rwanda will stay in private accommodation sought by the government.
Hostels and hotels like Hope House in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of the capital Kigali, are rented by Boris Johnson’s government and people will have to share rooms.
Hope House can accommodate up to 100 people with two per bedroom, but there are plans to expand to accommodate 300 people. Meals will be offered three times a day in a common dining room.
Hotel managers say it is designed to make them feel comfortable and that asylum seekers are free to come and go while they wait for their processing.
In April, the Mirror revealed that Rwandan genocide orphans were being kicked out of the facility to make way for government plans.
At Hope House, those staying there were given two weeks’ notice to find alternative accommodation, although the survivors – 22 in total – had little money and faced lifelong mental health battles.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘The Sunday Mirror’s revelations about Hope House are the latest issue showing why officials were unable to approve the plan.
“Incompetence and waste are hallmarks of this government. Britain deserves better than this chaos.”
A survivor said: “I hardly know of any other house. I was only told to move a few days ago. I have not yet found where I will go.
What’s wrong with Rwanda’s plans?
Those who oppose the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda have cited the country’s human rights record.
More than 160 organizations opposed the plans in April and protests against the flights continue.
NGOs and charities like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have highlighted the country’s grim record of enforced disappearances and torture in detention.
In April, Amnesty UK’s director for refugee and migrant rights, Steve Valdez-Symonds, said: “Sending people to another country – let alone a country with such a dismal record in rights issue – for the ‘processing’ of asylum is the height of irresponsibility and shows how far removed from humanity and reality the government is now on asylum issues.”
Press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said “authoritarianism and censorship are likely to continue for the foreseeable future”.
A Telegraph investigation found that some migrants already in Rwanda under a different regime lived in fear of security forces in what was described as a “police state”.
In April, the Home Office told the Mirror: ‘Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with respect to the rule of law – to suggest otherwise is wrong.’