Rwanda asylum seeker flight costs hundreds of thousands of pounds – for seven people

A flight with just seven asylum seekers on board is due to depart from Britain for Rwanda tonight after a series of legal challenges. It is expected to cost north of £200,000 with some estimates going as high as £500,000

The plane that is scheduled to bring seven asylum seekers to Rwanda tonight
The plane that is scheduled to bring seven asylum seekers to Rwanda tonight

Each asylum seeker flight to Rwanda will cost British taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds, it turns out.

Tonight, asylum seekers who were supposed to be on the first flight to Rwanda under the government’s controversial resettlement policy lost final legal offers to stay in the UK.

Four men who challenged their deportation in the High Court in London were dismissed, while a fifth man lost an attempt to appeal to the Supreme Court.

It means the flight is due to depart the UK for the East African nation on Tuesday evening with seven people on board. How much will it cost?

The Home Office spent £6.3million on 38 charter flights to deport or “administratively remove” people from January 1 to July 28 last year – nearly £167,000 per flight.

And the cost of travel to Rwanda – which the Home Office refuses to disclose – is likely to be much higher.

The average flight for the first half of last year cost nearly £167,000. Pictured: What is considered today’s aircraft


Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

A Freedom of Information response showed that most of the 38 flights were to Eastern Europe, but Kigali is more than an eight-hour flight from London.

The bill also excluded the cost of “escorts” to ensure people who are forced to leave do not escape or harm themselves or others.

The 38 aircraft carried just over 750 people, an average of 20 per flight.

The busiest flight carried 37 “returnees”, but one to Lithuania carried only three.

The Home Office insists the asylum system costs £1.5bn a year by comparison, including £4.7m a day in hotel bills.

A Home Office source said: “Can people really put a price on the cost of saving lives and securing our country’s borders?”.

But hotel costs will cover 37,000 destitute migrants and people in resettlement programmes, an average of £127 per person per day.

And the weekly cash allowance for asylum seekers in the UK to buy groceries, clothes and toiletries is just £40.58.

A plane recently landed at Boscombe Down airfield in Wiltshire, believed to be the plane that will fly asylum seekers to Rwanda later that evening


Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

By way of comparison, removal flights in the first half of last year cost more than £8,000 per person. And the UK will pay Rwanda £120m in upfront costs in exchange for accepting the deal.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper warned that the “costs are extremely high”.

Daniel Sohege, managing director of the refugee advice center Stand for All, tweeted: “The costs of today’s deportation flight alone could finance asylum money for more than 235 years.

“For the cost of paying Rwanda £120 million, you could fund about 57,000 years.”

He added: “Obviously it’s not about money. Human life has no price. Humanity has no price, or at least it shouldn’t.

“On the other hand, we have all these people who say ‘asylum seekers cost too much’ so some might be happy to put a price on life. If so, they pay more just to be cruel.”

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “Doing nothing is not an option for this government.”

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