UK made additional payment to Rwanda, says unrelated to deportation scheme

(Reuters) – Britain paid Rwanda an additional 100 million pounds ($126 million) in April, on top of the 140 million pounds that was already paid last year, according to the Home Office, even before any asylum seekers have been deported to the country.

The payment that had not previously been disclosed was agreed in April this year under a fund for the economic development and growth of Rwanda, the Home Office said in a statement on Thursday.

The British government added that it anticipates an additional payment of 50 million pounds next year to Rwanda as part of the same fund.

Britain has not paid any more to Rwanda up until now and the payment is entirely separate to the treaty signed on Tuesday to revive a government plan to deport asylum seekers to the East African country.

The new treaty seeks to overcome a decision by Britain’s Supreme Court, which ruled last month that the deportation scheme – at the centre of the British government’s strategy to deter illegal immigration – would violate international human rights laws enshrined in domestic legislation.

Rwanda did not ask for any payment in order for the new treaty to be signed nor was any offered, the Home Office statement said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appealed to his Conservative lawmakers on Thursday to unite behind his Rwanda plan after a revolt that exposed deep divisions in his party.

His immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, resigned on Wednesday, saying that the government’s published draft emergency legislation aimed at getting its Rwandan migrant deportation scheme up and running did not go far enough.

Sunak is also facing questions as to whether he can get his key policy through a vote in parliament.

($1 = 0.7945 pounds)

(Reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Sandra Maler)

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