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DOMINIC RAAB has admitted that the number of asylum-seekers sent to Rwanda is more likely to be “in the hundreds” each year and not tens of thousands as previously stated.
The Justice Secretary said that he wanted to “manage expectations” about the plan to send asylum-seekers on a one-way ticket to the east African nation.
When announced last month, PM Boris Johnson said that tens of thousands of people could be flown there under the deal in the years ahead.
Asked when the first deportation flights to Rwanda will take place, Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it would happen “as soon as possible.”
“I think that we’ll have to wait and see how operationally it works in practice,” he said.
“I think I’d be careful about managing expectations. It is not going to deal with the whole problem.”
Asked if hundreds or thousands of people would be removed every year, Mr Raab said: “I would have thought it was more likely to be in the hundreds.”
The government has already promised £120 million to Rwanda to accept asylum-seekers from Britain with some reports estimating that the policy could cost £30,000 per person deported.
The Home Office previously disputed suggestions that modelling by its own officials indicated that only 300 people a year could be sent to Rwanda.
The policy has been described as inhumane by rights groups and is being challenged in the courts by campaigners who claim it is unlawful.
Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed this week that 50 people have already been told of the government’s intention to deport them to Rwanda.
The Morning Star has spoken to asylum-seekers who said that they would kill themselves if sent there.
Campaigners said that the first flights had been postponed to at least next month after Mr Johnson claimed they would leave before the end of May.
It comes as Ms Patel is due to visit a new reception centre for asylum-seekers in the north Yorkshire town of Linton-on-Ouse.
Home Office officials were told the village was “in crisis” amid hours of questioning by residents at a parish meeting on Thursday night over the use of the disused RAF base.
About 60 asylum-seekers will be arriving at the site by the end of the month, the department’s director of asylum accommodation centres Cheryl Avery said.
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