Rwanda set to welcome migrants as UK unveils new tough immigration laws

Date:

03:15

Workers are putting the final touches to Hope Hostel in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, a four-story building preparing to receive the first group of asylum seekers from the UK.

The facility was initially set up to shelter young survivors of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. But having been empty and dormant for several years, it is about to be used again after the hostel won contracts from Rwanda’s emergency management ministry to host those deported by the UK.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Rwandan President Paul Kagame discussed the migration partnership on Monday and the need to disrupt the activities of smugglers while addressing humanitarian concerns in a telephone call. 

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The UK government says the scheme will deter people arriving in the UK through “illegal, dangerous or unnecessary methods,” such as on small boats which cross the English Channel. Critics say the policy is cruel, unworkable and expensive, and risks making trafficking worse.

Since the policy was announced in April 2022, the numbers crossing have actually risen. Over 45,700 people used this route to come to the UK in 2022 – the highest number since records began. Ninety percent of these applied for asylum.

Rwanda already welcomes migrants from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Libya. /CGTN Europe

Rwanda already welcomes migrants from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Libya. /CGTN Europe

Rwanda already welcomes migrants from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Libya. /CGTN Europe

With the British government announcing plans on Tuesday for a new law barring those entering the country illegally and barring them from claiming asylum or re-entering in the future, it would seem the infrastructure and people are in place in Rwanda to finally greet these migrants from the UK.

“Our capacity is to accommodate around 100 persons, which means that we have 50 twin rooms and other different services including computer room, prayer and entertainment area,” Bakinahe Ismail, manager of Hope House Hostel, told CGTN. “We have full-board accommodations services.”

Hope House is one of several hostels set aside by Rwandan authorities to receive migrants. The UK has already paid the Rwandan government almost $170 million for the scheme. 

Hope House Hostel looks set to accommodate migrants from the UK. /CGTN Europe

Hope House Hostel looks set to accommodate migrants from the UK. /CGTN Europe

Hope House Hostel looks set to accommodate migrants from the UK. /CGTN Europe

Rwandan officials say they are ready to accommodate close to 1,000 asylum seekers, and have experience in offering what they call a ‘pathway to thrive.’

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “Migrants from the UK will be offered not only safety, but the opportunity to live here with us and be given the right to work and live permanently for those who wish to stay.”

It’s not only the UK that’s sending refugees to Rwanda. Around 130,000 have arrived from neighboring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Afghanistan. People from Libya have also come in recent years, all under a joint arrangement with the UN’s High Commission for Refugees.

Flights to Rwanda from the UK were halted last summer after the European Court of Human Rights intervened. /Finnbarr Webster/Getty

Flights to Rwanda from the UK were halted last summer after the European Court of Human Rights intervened. /Finnbarr Webster/Getty

Flights to Rwanda from the UK were halted last summer after the European Court of Human Rights intervened. /Finnbarr Webster/Getty

Under the UK-Rwanda government scheme, anyone who arrived in Britain illegally since January 2022, could be relocated to Rwanda for processing, where they could be returned to their home country, allowed to stay in East Africa, or in exceptional cases, offered residency in the UK.

Planned deportation flights in 2022 became bogged down in legal challenges by human rights groups and so far, not one person has been sent.

However, if the words of UK’s Prime Minister and Rwanda’s President are anything to go by, there is a shared determination to change this and make the scheme successful. Rwanda is ready to receive the first arrivals, whenever they are sent.

 

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Source(s): Reuters

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