Rwanda’s government has asked for the scheme to send some illegal migrants to its country to be given “a chance”, after Prince Charles is said to have privately called it “appalling”.
Yolande Makolo, a spokesperson for the Kigali government, told Sky News the scheme is “well thought out” and it is the responsibility of governments of Africa to give people on the continent the chance to live “decent” lives, without the need to emigrate.
She said what was “appalling” was that migrants were risking “their lives crossing the ocean, trying to cross the desert”, rather than being given the chance to have “dignified” lives in their home countries.
She refused to be drawn on whether the Prince of Wales had gone too far but said he would be welcomed, along with “all these guests that are coming to Kigali” when Charles represents the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the Rwandan capital this month.
It comes after The Times cited a source who said they had heard Charles expressing his opposition to the plans in a private conversation.
The first deportations under the contentious deal are expected to happen next week after the High Court ruled on Friday that a flight taking asylum seekers to the east African country can go ahead.
They will be the first migrants to be sent there to have their asylum claims processed since the government announced the policy in April.
Read more: Asylum seeker who fled war says he would rather die than be sent to Rwanda
More than 30 people who the government says arrived in the UK illegally are due to be on the plane to Rwanda on Tuesday. The Home Office is set to schedule more flights this year.
‘Why should Africans have to move to Europe’
Ms Makolo told Sky News: “People need to give this partnership a chance. It’s very well thought out. It’s going to be well resourced.
“We’re determined to make this work… so everyone just needs to give us a chance to work.
“I understand there’s a lot of excitement about this, but we need to work together as global partners to make things right, to protect people and to correct the imbalance in opportunities.
“Why should Africans move have to move to Europe to get a decent life? Why can’t we build decent lives here?
“As governments that’s our responsibility, to create environments where people are able to work and have a decent, dignified lives here, and not risk their lives crossing the ocean, trying to cross the desert. That is what’s appalling, actually.”
Ms Makolo said Rwanda has extensive experience hosting refugees and so her compatriots can “empathise” with those who arrive from the UK, having sought asylum there.
She said: “The vast majority of migrants arriving in the UK and in Europe (are) people who are looking for better lives and they deserve it, everyone deserves to live up this dignified life.
“And this is what we offering… not just safety for people fleeing conflict and persecution, but we’re also going to be offering opportunities for people who want to be productive and to who want to live here with us and develop with us.”
“It’s a solution to a problem and I don’t see many other solutions, I don’t see many other people coming up with a comprehensive solution like the one we have come up with the UK.
“At the heart of this partnership is humanity. The people profiting from this are the human smugglers… making big promises, exploiting people who are making these dangerous journeys. So… why not get into a partnership that will work?
“We determined to make this work… to show that there’s another way of handling this migration. And as Africans, as Rwandans, we also want to participate in providing a global solution to this problem.”
A spokesperson for Charles stopped short of denying reports that he is said to be privately “disappointed” by the strategy. Clarence House insisted he had not tried to influence the government.
A spokesperson said: “We would not comment on supposed anonymous private conversations with The Prince of Wales, except to restate that he remains politically neutral. Matters of policy are decisions for government.”
Traditionally, the Royal Family does not get involved in political matters.
As head of state, the Queen has to remain strictly neutral on political matters and doesn’t vote, according to Buckingham Palace.
‘If that’s meddling, I’m proud’
However, the 73-year-old prince, who is the heir to the throne, has been an outspoken supporter of various causes and has been accused of ‘meddling’.
Writing in The Spectator, former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the latest reports suggested there was a risk of “an opinionated prince morphing into a meddlesome king”.
When asked in a 2018 BBC documentary about whether he interferes, Charles said: “I’ve always been intrigued, if it’s meddling to worry about the inner cities as I did 40 years ago – what was happening or not happening there, the conditions in which people were living. If that’s meddling I’m very proud of it.”
Campaign groups have said they will on Monday appeal against the decision of the court not to declare the government’s actions unlawful.
Meanwhile, there were reports on Saturday of a crowd of people in London tussling with police in a bid to stop a man being detained during an immigration raid.
The Metropolitan Police said officers were called to a report of “protesters obstructing immigration officers”.
“Officers attended and found a van was being prevented from leaving the location,” the force added.
“One man has been arrested by Border Force officers on suspicion of immigration offences. Officers remain at the scene.”