Amb. Busingye reacts to Margaret’s flawed criticisms on planned deportation of asylum seekers from UK to Rwanda

On 14 July 2023 at 12:18

Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Johnston Busingye has emphasized that Rwanda is a safe country with a proven track record of exemplary treatment of refugees. He said that Rwanda is recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and others and reiterated the country’s commitment to provide the same level of care for asylum seekers from the UK.

Amb. Busingye’s response comes after Margaret Owen, founder and director of Widows for Peace Through Democracy, wrote a letter arguing that Rwanda was not safe for asylum seekers.

Owen’s letter followed the verdict of the UK Court of Appeal on 29th June, which ruled that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was "unlawful" and described the country as unsafe.

In a letter published in The Guardian, Amb. Busingye stated that Owen’s claim that Rwanda is not safe for refugees "is yet another example of an archaic view of Africa as a land of darkness and danger."

He invited her to visit Rwanda and witness firsthand the modern, hopeful, and progressive nation that is being built.

"Our treatment of refugees has been recognised as exemplary by the UNHCR and others. We were commended for stepping in to evacuate refugees from detention centres in Libya, for welcoming Afghan girls wanting to pursue their education, and for hosting 140,000 refugees in our country," he stated.

Amb. Busingye also reminded Owen that Rwanda ranks third in Africa for economic freedom and first globally for the percentage of women in parliament (61.3%), with this representation extending throughout society.

"Life expectancy has gone from 49 in 2000 to 70 today, and we are approaching universal access to healthcare and education. By any metric, Rwanda is a safe country," he added.

Commenting on Owen’s claim that Rwanda invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which resulted in killings, displacements, and sexual violence, Amb. Busingye explained, "The crisis unfolding in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo is an internal affair. Rwanda does what’s necessary to ensure the crisis does not impact the safety of its citizens or anyone we welcome on our territory."

"The DRC government and armed forces, far from providing security for their citizens, have instead formed heinous alliances with genocidal militias such as the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda [FDLR], one of more than 130 active illegal armed groups in eastern DRC," added Amb. Busingye.

FDLR is made up of former perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Amb. Busingye further explained that Owen’s commentary inexplicably seeks to minimize the threat of FDLR’s extremist ideology and the ethnic cleansing of Congolese Tutsi communities. "Rwanda will continue to do what it takes to maintain our safety, security, and socioeconomic development," he affirmed.

The plan, known as the "Migration and Economic Development Partnership," was established in April 2022 to facilitate the transfer of migrants and asylum seekers who are illegally present in the UK to Rwanda.

The initial timeline for the first migrants to arrive in Rwanda was set for July 2022, but this was delayed due to a complaint filed by organizations advocating for migrants’ rights. The Court of Appeal reviewed the case and made the recent ruling.

The court’s decision contradicts the position of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who have consistently defended the deportation plan, highlighting Rwanda’s successful management of refugee and migrant crises.

It is worth noting that the UK has been granted permission to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal.

Amb. Busingye has reminded Owen that Rwanda is a safe county and invited her to visit the country to witness firsthand the modern, hopeful, and progressive nation that is being built.