Rwanda reacts to concerns raised over recently entered partnership to receive asylum seekers from UK

On 18 April 2022 at 03:10

Rwanda and the United Kingdom (UK) recently signed the Economic Development Partnership on Thursday 14th April 2022.The partnership will see Rwanda accommodating asylum seekers staying in UK illegally.

The development came at a time when deep global inequalities are driving millions of people from their homes in search of opportunity, at the same time as millions are forcibly displaced by conflict, persecution, and other threats to safety.

Under this program, the UK will provide an upfront investment of £120 million to fund invaluable opportunities for Rwandans and migrants including secondary qualifications, vocational and skills training, language lessons, and higher education.

Following the agreement, some people, the majority of whom being from the western part of the world, expressed concerns over the partnership.

Among them, is the leader of the Anglican church who strongly criticized the British government’s plan to put some asylum-seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda, saying “sub-contracting out our responsibilities” to refugees can’t stand up to God’s scrutiny.

According to the Washington Post, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made the direct political intervention in his Easter Sunday sermon at Canterbury Cathedral in southeast England, saying there are “serious ethical questions about sending asylum-seekers overseas.”

He said “sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures.”

His words triggered mixed reactions among politicians including the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel who asked him to suggest a solution to the issue of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe.

Baseless claims

The Spokesperson of the Government of Rwanda, Yolande Makolo has said that people doubting about Rwanda’s capacity to accommodate refugees should visit the country to witness its remarkable progress achieved over the past 28 years.

She highlighted that Rwanda has made tremendous progress in every aspect of development on rights, freedom, media as the country remains stable, united and continues to grow very rapidly.

Makolo was speaking during an interview with GB News, a television and radio news channel in the United Kingdom, commenting on human rights concerns raised following recent migration and economic development partnership between Rwanda and UK.

“Some of the reports do not correspond to the reality and both the United Kingdom and the US who have representatives here in embassies, are able to see this for themselves. Anyone who comes to Rwanda cannot fail to see with their own eyes, the progress this country has made,” she noted.

The Spokesperson of the Government of Rwanda, Yolande Makolo.

On agreements to host asylum seekers, refugees and migrants; Makolo said that Rwanda is among countries that ratified the international convention for refugee protection and has different policies to ensure their rights are respected in the country.

Today, Rwanda accommodates more than 130,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in the country safely with equal access to opportunities to lead decent life.

These include refugees and asylum seekers from Libya since 2019 where there are third countries that have agreed to receive over 700 have of them in collaboration with UNHCR.

Makoloexpressed optimism that the new ‘innovative model will be emulated by other countries. Then we can do more together’.

Under the partnership between Rwanda and UK, asylum seekers will be entitled to full protection under Rwandan law, equal access to employment, and enrolment in healthcare and social care services.

These asylum seekers from African countries and others outside the continent will be treated decently like Rwandans upon arrival. It is expected that those willing to return to their mother lands will be helped to do so.

Unlike asylum seekers and refugees from Libya living in Gashora Transit Camp, the ones from UK will be housed in specially-selected accommodation facilities where they will wait for asylum claims to be processed.

Makolo has explained that migrants will be treated decently.

“Once migrants arrive in Rwanda, we will take responsibility for them. Rwanda is a signatory to the refugee convention and we have an asylum process of our own. We do have our own immigration and migrant policy. So, we will take responsibility for them,” she said.

The spokesperson highlighted that they will have access to legal services through Rwanda’s asylum process which is in in line with the refugee convention and similar to the process of other countries.

“That is what we will use to determine whether they are asylum seekers or simply migrants looking for an opportunity.

Because we believe, in a fair world, people should be able to live with dignity and have access to opportunities wherever they are. Whether they are determined to be migrants or economic refugees, they are welcomed to stay with us if they want to,” she noted.

Rwanda recently entered partnership with UK to receive asylum seekers staying in the country illegally.