Rwanda rebukes UNHCR over ’fabricated allegations’ on asylum seeker treatment

On 12 June 2024 at 01:09

The Rwandan government has rebuked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for allegedly spreading misinformation about the country’s treatment of asylum seekers.

This statement was released on June 11, 2024 by the government spokesperson, accusing the UNHCR of fabricating allegations presented to the United Kingdom (UK)’s courts and undermining Rwanda’s longstanding policy of providing refuge to those in need.

The UNHCR has claimed that Rwanda abuses the rights of asylum seekers and that they have no freedom while in the country. However, Rwanda asserts that it is not clear how the UNHCR files false accusations while continuing to work with Rwanda to host asylum seekers from Africa.

“UNHCR is lying. The organization seems intent on presenting fabricated allegations to U.K. courts about Rwanda’s treatment of asylum seekers, while still partnering with us to bring African migrants from Libya to safety in Rwanda through the Emergency Transit Mechanism,” the spokesperson said.

Rwanda highlighted a specific case involving a man who was denied asylum in the Seychelles. Later, the UNHCR in South Africa unilaterally decided he should be given asylum in Rwanda without involving the Rwandan government. The UNHCR often uses such cases to justify their claims.

This incident is part of what the Rwandan government describes as a series of unfounded allegations. Another example provided was a claim that Rwanda denied asylum to a group of Burundians.

“These individuals never claimed asylum but instead were found to have breached Rwandan immigration laws. This is made all the more ridiculous when you consider the fact that Rwanda currently provides refuge to tens of thousands of our Burundian neighbours who have sought safety in our country,” the spokesperson said.

Additional false allegations, according to the spokesperson, involve people with legal status in other countries arriving in Rwanda without meeting entry requirements or claiming asylum and individuals leaving Rwanda voluntarily.

“Again, these are not examples of refoulement. As we have said time and again, Rwanda does not refoule asylum seekers,” the statement reiterated.

The Rwandan government expressed frustration over the UNHCR’s actions, especially given Rwanda’s binding agreements with the U.K. to process migrants and asylum seekers.

“Rwanda has entered into binding agreements with the U.K. to process migrants and asylum seekers, building upon our already proven record of providing safety to those fleeing conflict,” the spokesperson noted.

Reaffirming Rwanda’s commitment to its international obligations, the spokesperson concluded, “Rwanda remains committed to upholding all of our obligations as signatories to the refugee convention. We will continue to provide safety and opportunity to those fleeing conflict, as we have done for the last thirty years.”

Rwanda signed revised migration and economic development treaty with UK towards the end of last year. Under signed agreements, asylum seekers arriving illegally in the European country will be transferring to Rwanda awaiting their claims to be processed.