Ex-British Army chief 'uncomfortable' sending asylum seekers to Rwanda

The former head of the British army has attacked the government’s plan to ship off asylum seekers who crossed the English Channel on small boats to Rwanda.

General Sir Richard Dannatt warned of the east African nation’s ‘dark history’ and urged the home secretary to not send those seeking refuge there.

He accused Suella Braverman of running ‘down the remaining political capital of Rishi Sunak’s government’ with the ‘unpopular policy’.

‘The government is entitled to bear down on people coming on small boats who are simply seeking a better life,’ the crossbench peer told the Independent.

‘Whether sending people to Rwanda is the right policy, I have my doubts. It seems to be aimed at deterring others from coming, because there is a strong sanction against them. I’m uncomfortable with it.

‘I’ve been to Rwanda, and the shadow of the genocide there in the 1990s hangs over that country.’

Between 491,000 and 800,000 people were killed during the Rwandan Civil War in 1994 by Hutu militias, with the scale and brutality causing shock wordlwide.

Critics of the scheme, which has already faced challenges in the High Court, have long pointed to well-documented concerns about the country’s human rights record.

Lord Dannatt added: ‘It is not the sort of environment I would put people from Syria and elsewhere in the world into.’

Britain has agreed a multimillion-pound partnership with Rwanda designed to tackle the number of migrants arriving via unauthorised routes.

The £140 million deal will see some migrants who arrive on small boats via the English Channel sent to the country, if they cannot be deported back to theirs.

No one has actually been sent to the country so far. The first flight was scheduled to go in June 2022, but was cancelled amid legal challenges.

Lord Dannatt said: ‘It’s somewhat surprising Suella Braverman is persisting with an unpopular policy…

‘I fail to understand why the home secretary is continuing to run down the remaining political capital of Rishi Sunak’s government.’

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