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Disturbing Disappearance: First Migrant Sent to Rwanda by UK Goes Missing

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The first migrant deported from the United Kingdom to Rwanda under a new voluntary scheme has gone missing after arriving in the African nation, according to reports. The unnamed man, believed to be from Africa, was offered up to £3,000 to relocate from Britain. However, he is nowhere to be found at the luxury Hope Hostel in Kigali where he was expected to be housed, The Sun newspaper reported.

According to The Independent, The voluntary returns programme was announced by the UK government in March. It offers rejected asylum seekers cash incentives to move to Rwanda instead of remaining in Britain. This is separate from the controversial policy of forcibly deporting asylum seekers who arrived in the UK via unauthorized routes like small boat crossings of the English Channel.

“The first failed asylum seeker has gone to Rwanda under a voluntary removals programme,” a Home Office source confirmed to The Sun. The man reportedly flew on a commercial flight from  London to Kigali on Monday.



He was meant to be accommodated at the recently refurbished Hope Hostel in the upscale Kagugu neighborhood of Kigali upon arrival. The hostel, which once housed survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, has been renovated to receive migrants sent by the UK government under the asylum plan.

“The gates were locked and the place was empty,” a source told The Sun about the current state of the Hope Hostel. “The migrant who arrived from Britain is lying low somewhere else in Rwanda.”

The four-story hostel has 50 double rooms that can house up to 100 people. It features recreational facilities like a soccer pitch, basketball court, prayer rooms and communal areas with televisions. Migrants were promised “safe and clean accommodation, food, healthcare and recreation” according to a booklet outlining their rights and expectations.

Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo had previously stated the East African nation would be able to accommodate over 200 migrants initially under the deal with the UK, The Hindu newspaper reported. However, she said the number accepted annually would depend on various factors being worked out.

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The UK’s forced deportations of asylum seekers to Rwanda are set to begin as early as July after Parliament approved new legislation allowing the policy to proceed. This overrode a Supreme Court ruling last year that found the original policy unlawful.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping unauthorized immigration one of his key priorities. Official figures show around 45,000 migrants arrived in the UK by small boats across the English Channel in 2022 alone.

However, the Rwanda policy has faced widespread criticism from human rights groups, refugee advocates and opposition parties who argue it is unethical, costly and a threat to the UK’s international obligations. The government has already paid Rwanda over £140 million ($175 million) to implement the plan.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Yvette Cooper dismissed the voluntary relocation as a “pre-election stunt” and accused ministers of “spending £3,000 of taxpayers’ money flying a volunteer to Rwanda,” according to news reports.

The UK government claims the policy will deter human trafficking gangs facilitating dangerous crossings and restart the country’s refugee program by allowing more legal routes for asylum claims. But critics argue there are better ways to address the issue that don’t involve sending vulnerable people thousands of miles away.

As the controversy continues to swirl, the strange case of the missing migrant in Rwanda only adds more uncertainty around the feasibility and ethics of the UK’s asylum plan. With forced deportations looming, all eyes remain on the East African nation to see how the policy unfolds in the coming months.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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