The Home Secretary has been given a tour of potential migrant housing in Rwanda as 209 people were confirmed to have made the journey across the Channel on Friday.
Suella Braverman embarked on her first full day in the country as Home Secretary on Saturday as she set out to reaffirm her commitment to the Rwanda deportation policy.
No migrants have been relocated to the country so far as the deal, which was signed last April by Ms Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel, remains embroiled in legal battles.
During her visit, the Government reported that 209 people had crossed the Channel in small boats on Friday, after five days of no reported crossings.
On Saturday, one refugee living in Rwanda told reporters he had “never felt I have been considered as a foreigner”, but said he did not see the African nation having the capacity to hold “many thousands” of migrants.
Fesseha Teame, 48, who has a wife and four children, was speaking after Ms Braverman claimed: “Rwanda has the capacity to resettle many thousands of people, and can quickly stand up accommodation once flights begin.”
The Home Secretary also said the suggestion that Rwanda could only take 200 people is a “completely false narrative peddled by critics who want to scrap the deal”.
Ahead of her trip, the Home Secretary said the plan “will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys”.
On Saturday morning, Ms Braverman was given a tour of housing on the Riverside Estate, which could provide long-term homes to migrants after the land was purchased by the Rwandan government.
The properties, with the cheapest costing around £14,000 for any potential buyers, have capacity for off-street parking, gardens and fibre-optic broadband, according to Hassan Hassan, the general manager of the construction firm that built them.
The housing is due to be offered to both Rwandans and asylum seekers, with around 25% of the off-plan structures having already been privately bought.
Looking inside one of the properties, she said: “These houses are really beautiful, great quality, really welcoming and I really like your interior designer.
“I need some advice for myself,” Ms Braverman added.
Migrants arriving from the UK would be housed in hostels and hotels in the short-term.
During her trip, the Home Secretary is due to meet President Paul Kagame and her counterpart Vincent Biruta to discuss the deal.
She will also meet with investment start-up professionals and entrepreneurs, to discuss the range of business and employment opportunities available in Rwanda.
The Government’s plan to forcibly remove migrants to the African nation is currently grounded by the courts – with asylum seekers being told on Tuesday they could appeal against Home Office decisions to relocate them.
A group of individuals from countries including Iran, Iraq and Syria are aiming to overturn rulings made by two High Court judges in December – who dismissed a series of legal bids against the Government’s plan.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper challenged Ms Braverman to answer a string of questions about the policy, including how many people were expected to be sent this year and whether any extra cash had been promised to the Kigali government.
She said: “Suella Braverman has still not come clean on the number of people Rwanda will really take in practice or the full cost to the British taxpayer.
“Already the Home Secretary has written Rwanda cheques for at least £140 million even though she has admitted the scheme is failing and the Home Office says it has a high risk of fraud.
“Instead of expensive PR stunts she should put that money into going after the smuggling gangs to stop dangerous boat crossings.”