The UK has sent the first failed asylum seeker to Rwanda under a voluntary scheme.

The scheme is for those who have gone through the asylum process and had permission rejected, rather than for migrants who have illegally entered Britain by crossing the Channel on small boats.

The migrant was sent on a commercial flight and handed a fee from the British taxpayer to help relocate under the terms of a deal with Rwanda.

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According to The Sun, the man of African origin claimed asylum in the UK but was rejected at the end of last year. He then accepted the offer to go to Rwanda.

He left the UK on Monday.

This was not done using the powers set out in the Safety of Rwanda Act, but rather a parallel scheme that allows someone to choose to make the trip if their attempts to claim asylum in the UK fails.

And upon arrival in Kigali, the person is able to claim around £3,000 in UK taxpayer money as help.

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The development was criticised by both the Labour Party and Reform UK director Nigel Farage.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said: “The Tories are so desperate to get any flight off to Rwanda before the local elections that they have now just paid someone to go.

“British taxpayers aren’t just forking out £3,000 for a volunteer to board a plane, they are also paying Rwanda to provide him with free board and lodgings for the next five years. This extortionate pre-election gimmick is likely to be costing on average £2m per person.

“Former Tory Home Office ministers warned that the government’s plan was just to get token flights off before a General Election. Now we know what they mean.”

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Former UKIP leader Mr Farage said: “Don’t be conned by this new government spin on the Rwanda deal.

“This African man, who did not even cross the Channel, was refused asylum and has voluntarily accepted £3,000 and free board.

“It won’t stop the boats.”

The government’s attempts to forcefully remove people to Rwanda were announced more than two years ago, but no one has been sent so far.

Read more:
Home Office centres deserted as migrants ‘scared’ of Rwanda scheme
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Earlier this month, parliament passed the Safety of Rwanda Act, and the government hopes to get flights off the ground in nine to 11 weeks.

A government spokesperson said: “We are now able to send asylum seekers to Rwanda under our migration and economic development partnership.

“This deal allows people with no immigration status in the UK to be relocated to a safe third country where they will be supported to rebuild.”