Plans to accommodate refugees in Kigali taking shape ahead of first flights from the UK

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 29 April 2024 at 02:02

Plans to receive refugees being removed from the United Kingdom (UK) are in top gear in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, following the Royal assent of the legislation declaring the country safe for asylum seekers.

Rwandan government deputy spokesperson Alain Mukuralinda told The Guardian that the authorities are ready to receive the migrants ahead of the first flights scheduled to depart for Rwanda in about 12 weeks, as announced by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week.

“We are ready, and even if asylum seekers arrive here tomorrow, we shall receive them and accommodate them,” Mukuralinda said.

The two governments have made arrangements to host the refugees at city facilities, including Hope Hostel, which is located about 20 kilometres from the airport.

The hostel manager, Ismael Bakina, told the UK publication that plans are underway to accommodate the refugees and ensure their comfort throughout their stay. This includes giving them an orientation that will help them familiarize themselves with the country and its people.

At the well-maintained and elegant hostel, the migrants will be allowed to engage in extracurricular activities, including football and basketball games.

“We have designated even smoking places,” Bakina revealed, adding, “We shall offer them internet services.”

The migrants will enjoy three meals a day and have the freedom to walk to the city at will.
“This is not a prison or detention center. The migrants will go everywhere they want to go, including visiting the city center,” Bakina said.

The government will use the first three months to process the migrants’ documents before taking them to live in permanent houses alongside Rwandans.

The authorities will also cover the refugees’ expenses for at least five years, during which they are expected to start looking after themselves. During this period, those who are educated will be encouraged to apply for jobs to earn a living and contribute to nation-building.

Mukuralinda further noted that the refugees’ safety is guaranteed. He insisted that those who were claiming that Rwanda is not safe had been proved wrong after the UK government finally approved the scheme last week.

Meanwhile, the UK government is expected to start detaining migrants arriving in the UK through irregular routes in the coming weeks ahead of their removal to Rwanda.

The Guardian reports that officials plan to hold up asylum seekers who turn up for routine meetings at immigration service offices. They will also pick people up nationwide in a major two-week exercise.

The migrants would then be transferred to detention centers awaiting their removal to Kigali.

The Rwanda migration plan is part of the UK government’s strategy to deter people from arriving in the UK via small boats across the English Channel.

The UK signed the deal with the Rwandan government in 2022, but the plans were delayed due to protracted legal tussles and parliamentary ping-pong.

The UK plans to offer failed asylum seekers up to £3,000 (RWF 4,866,727) to move to Rwanda under the new voluntary scheme.

Rwandan government deputy spokesperson Alain Mukuralinda told The Guardian that the authorities are ready to receive migrants from UK.