Is Rwanda safe? Foreigners in Rwanda share their experiences

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 25 April 2024 at 02:46

The debate about Rwanda’s safety featured prominently in recent weeks as the UK parliament debated a bill on the government’s scheme to remove asylum seekers to the East African country.

Safety of Rwanda Bill, which sought to declare Rwanda a safe destination for asylum seekers after the Supreme Court declared the scheme unlawful, faced strong opposition from the Labour Party and human rights groups.

The groups argued that the safety of the migrants could not be guaranteed in Rwanda with the Lords pushing for amendments to ensure the legislation had “due regard” for international and key domestic laws, including human rights and modern slavery legislation.

The Supreme Court judges had earlier ruled that there were substantial grounds for believing “asylum seekers would face a real risk of ill-treatment by reason of refoulement [return] to their country of origin if they were removed to Rwanda”.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, shared similar sentiments, arguing that the refugees were not safe in Rwanda.

“The Supreme Court looked at it all very carefully and concluded Rwanda did not have a system in place to protect refugees,” Valdez-Symonds said.

After a sustained parliamentary ping-pong the bill sailed through on Monday after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stuck to his guns on plans to deter vulnerable migrants from making dangerous crossings to the UK using small boats.

Sunak, while defending the bill, argued that the scheme would help break the business model of criminal gangs who exploit the migrants.

The Lords allowed the legislation to pass without further amendments. It received the royal assent today paving the way for the first flight of migrants to depart to Rwanda in July.

In light of the debate about the safety of Rwanda we sought to know the experiences of the foreigners living in Rwanda as the country continues to rebuild itself after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed the lives of more than a million people.

Most of the foreigners we spoke to including students and entrepreneurs all agreed that Rwanda is a safe country governed by the rule of law.

"I have been in Rwanda for about a year now. If you’ve been to other parts of the world and other parts of Africa, you haven’t experienced this. It’s a very unique and beautiful part of Africa. It’s an extremely safe part of Africa. Coming from the South and being in other African countries, you cannot compare what we have in Rwanda,” South African business executive Firhaan Brood said.

Leila Drameh, a Gambian studying at Kigali Independent University, said, “Rwanda is a safe country. There are rules and regulations that govern the country...Hearsay doesn’t really work. People should be factual.”

Watch the video below to discover more about Rwanda: