Rwanda Has Offered To Take In UKโ€™s Undocumented Migrants. Hereโ€™s Why

Deal signing between Rwanda and UK

Introduction

A recent agreement between the Rwandan and UK governments will see the East African country open its arms in welcoming asylum seekers from Europe.

Asylum seekers flee to other countries on accounts of war or persecution in their own countries, and the UK migrant crisis has seen many of these people. By the numbers, it was 8,404 people in 2020, 28,526 in 2021, and now about 4,500 between January and March alone.

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A group of people believed to be migrants speed across the English Channel in a small boat
Migrants crossing in a small boat (Image Source: iNews)

As a solution, the Northeastern European country has begun a five-year relocation plan. This will mean moving asylum seekers all the way to Rwanda before they even get registered as refugees.

Details of the UK-Rwandan Deal

Details of the UK-Rwandan deal are not entirely clear, however, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the decision. The minister made this known in a speech on 14th April following the arrival of a fresh batch of refugees on Southeastern England beaches.

In his statement, โ€œanyone entering the UK illegally as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1 may now be relocated.โ€

Rwanda Minister signs the migration deal with UK Home Secretary.
Prit Patel (left) and Vincent Burita (right) meet over the UK-Rwandan asylum deal (Image Source: SkyNews)

Following this, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel traveled to Rwanda where she met with the countryโ€™s Foreign Minister Vincent Burita and went on to sign what both countries are referring to as an โ€œeconomic development partnership.โ€

The migration deal will cost the UK about 120 million pounds ($156 million) in funds. This will cover migrantsโ€™ initial accommodation, transportation to Rwanda, and other arrangements such as five years of health care, training, and accommodation support. Reports also have it that the plan will begin with the relocation of single, male individuals.

Reactions to The Migration Decision

Controversies are already trailing the migration deal with both governments under heavy fire, and foreign agencies questioning the legality of the decision.

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While many assume that the decision has something to do with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda seeking to gain support from the UK on international fronts, or, perhaps, upturning his image in human rights spotlights, others outrightly tag it to be a shameful act of trafficking in humans between both countries.

Strong criticism came from the Central Africa director for Human Rights Watch, Lewis Mudge, who mentioned that Rwanda has been underperforming when it comes to refugee safety. According to the director, the country โ€œhas repeatedly demonstrated how little it values the protection that should be afforded to refugees under international law.โ€

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in a separate release, also frowns at the decision. Speaking through Gillian Triggs who is an assistant secretary-general, it โ€œstrongly condemns outsourcing the primary responsibility to consider the refugee status.โ€

Lots of Rwandans are yet to react to the decision. However, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Rwanda, Tom Mulisa, has given his approval. In his words, โ€œItโ€™s good that Rwanda has positioned itself in this way, as a way to help solve the migration crisis that is affecting the whole world.โ€

Taking A Look from The Side of Both Governments

President Paul Kagame speaking during an interview
Rwandan President Paul Kagame (Image Source: Mwebantu)

Notwithstanding the many criticisms, the UK-Rwandan migration deal is put forward as a humanitarian effort by both governments.

President Kagame, during an interview, stressed that the deal was not treacherous. โ€œWe are not trading human beings, please. This is not the case, we are actually helping.โ€ Speaking further, he said that, โ€œit is a clear cut issue and it was actually something of an innovation that Rwanda put forth to deal with this migration issue.โ€

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The Rwandan leader went ahead to mention that the request to help came as a result of Rwandaโ€™s historic contributions to resolving the global migration crisis.

On his own side, Johnson insisted that the migration plan is โ€œfully compliantโ€ with international regulations but is expected to receive legal challenges.

The Prime Minister also bolstered Kagameโ€™s point saying that Rwanda has experienced a lot of positive change in the last decade and is โ€œone of the safest countries in the world, internationally recognized for its reception and integration of migrantsโ€.

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