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After meeting with Kagame, Braverman ploughs on with cash for asylum-seekers scheme

Several European governments are dropping plans to outsource the processing of refugee claims

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman used her tightly choreographed weekend trip to Rwanda, accompanied only by reporters from right-wing newspapers and broadcasters, to re-emphasise the government's determination to implement its deal on asylum-seekers with Kigali. The £120 million (US$143m) scheme aims to send asylum-seekers flown from Britain to Rwanda for their appeals to be processed (AC Vol 63 No 9, Refugee deal faces delays as legal and political challenges grow).

Braverman says it could mean the transfer of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to Rwanda, where the government has started building special accommodation for them.

The scheme, which is yet to transfer any people to Rwanda, has repeatedly been challenged in the UK courts over potential breaches to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee convention, and will go to the Court of Appeal in the coming months.

Braverman met with President Paul Kagame and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Vincent Biruta, then visited the accommodation to be offered to asylum-seekers.

Braverman and Biruta later issued a joint statement that referenced the British government's new Illegal Migration Bill which would give authorities the power to detain and return irregular migrants, with Rwanda offering to take an 'unlimited' number of them.

Her visit was criticised by Congo-Kinshasa's President Félix Tshisekedi who accused Britain of 'turning a blind eye' to abuses of the Kagame regime. In an interview with the London Times,  Tshisekedi dismissed Braverman's description of Rwanda as 'a beacon in the region', accusing Kagame's government of backing the M23 militia of serial massacres in eastern Congo.

'It seems as if the deal has more value to Britain than supporting peace and stability in Congo,' said Tshisekedi.

Other countries are having second thoughts about outsourcing the processing of asylum claims and accommodating refugees.

Last week, the European Commission stated that it would not be seeking to externalise asylum processing, with Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson telling reporters that schemes involving Israel and the Britain had seen 'not very promising results' and 'doesn't make sense' for the EU.

'This is not our Europe… it's not what defines us,' added Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

In February, the Dutch parliament, including the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Christian Democrat Action – the two main parties in Mark Rutte's coalition government, voted to open talks with a view to setting up refugee centres outside the EU.

Denmark, which was the first European government to open talks with Rwanda on building asylum processing centres, announced in January that it had suspended negotiations with Kigali and would support a common EU agreement.

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