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Rwanda prepares to take children removed from UK under asylum plan

Children seeking asylum in the UK could soon be sent to Rwanda as the country makes plans to house the youngsters under the government's widely criticised scheme.

It comes as 231 asylum seekers arrived in the UK in five small boats yesterday, including on the Kent coast.

Asylum seekers who arrive in the UK in small boats could be sent to Rwanda
Asylum seekers who arrive in the UK in small boats could be sent to Rwanda

As it stands, those who are sent to Rwanda will stay in The Hope Hostel in the capital of Kigali, which is looking to build a five-a-side football pitch, a basketball court and is considering buying outside toys for children.

The hostel's manager Elisee Kalyango confirmed this saying the accommodation is "ready to handle people from any age" while Downing Street insists no children will be sent unaccompanied.

The manager made the statement when speaking to journalists who travelled to Rwanda with the Prime Minister who is attending a Commonwealth summit.

As he showed them around during a visit arranged by No 10, the building was empty.

Mr Kalyango said those who were living there before, understood to include orphans of the Rwandan genocide and students, were moved elsewhere shortly after the British government signed the £120 million economic and migration deal in April.

Lord Dubs, who was welcomed to the UK when he fled the Nazis in Czechoslovakia under the Kindertransport scheme, said the revelation about children was “utterly unacceptable”.

The Labour peer told the PA news agency: “The policy of sending people to Rwanda is awful enough without adding that they are going to send children.

"I don’t know how they think they can get away with it – I think it’s deeply, deeply shocking.

“It makes it clear they don’t care who they send to Rwanda – as long as they get rid of people.”

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the government needs to prepare “facilities for all eventualities” and insisted 90% of those travelling across the English Channel in small boats are men.

Asylum seekers landing on the beach in Kent
Asylum seekers landing on the beach in Kent

“It’s right we prepare for all eventualities and you can see we have prepared properly,” he said.

“Our view is we have taken significant steps, as have the Rwandan government, and those running this site, to make sure people have everything they need here and opportunities to resettle and live their lives.”

When asked if children who arrive illegally with their parents would be deported, he said: “It will depend on those who make the journey.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “For them now to include vulnerable children in their plans is sinking to a real new low. (Home Secretary) Priti Patel should be ashamed.

“The Home Office should stop this damaging plan, start targeting the criminal gangs and sort out their own asylum decision-making instead.”

Rwanda’s human rights record is one of the main concerns critics have about the £120 million deal.

No one-way flights for migrants have taken off yet. The first was due to depart last week, but was grounded by last minute legal challenges.

Despite the scheme being stalled, it also emerged that Britain has already made payments to Kigali, which has begun spending the money in preparation for receiving asylum seekers

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