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Ministers’ threats to send unauthorised migrants to Rwanda are having a detrimental impact on the physical and psychological health of people seeking asylum, according to two major refugee charities.

The British Red Cross and the Refugee Council, which worked with nearly 44,000 people in the asylum process, warn that they are disappearing from hotels and are reluctant to claim support for fear of deportation, detention and other harsh measures.

The development comes as the Home Office admitted that LGBTQ+ refugees could be persecuted if sent to Rwanda – but still plans to fly them 4,000 miles to the capital, Kigali. The Home Office’s human rights assessment itself was also questioned on Tuesday, with the chief inspector of immigration asking for it to be independently scrutinised. The non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch has described it as full of “blatant falsehoods”.

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