The partnership was signed on Thursday 14th April 2022 by Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in Kigali.
The development comes 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.
This has created immense demands on the immigration systems of many countries, including the UK. This situation has driven vulnerable people to place their lives in the hands of criminal smuggling gangs, resulting in countless tragedies.
The partnership between UK and Rwanda is expected to address this urgent humanitarian crisis by tackling its roots. By relocating migrants to Rwanda and investing in personal development and employment for migrants, both nations are taking bold steps to address the imbalance in global opportunities which drives illegal migration, while dismantling the incentive structures which empower criminal gangs and endanger innocent lives. The partnership will disrupt the business model of organised crime gangs and deter migrants from putting their lives at risk.
Crucially, the partnership will prioritise the dignity and rights of migrants, empowering them with a range of opportunities for building a better life in a country which has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s safest. Migrants will be integrated into communities across the country.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Biruta welcomed the partnership, stating that “Rwanda is committed to international co-operation and partnership on migration, in particular the opportunities that a robust protection system as well as a comprehensive human capital investment program can create, for migrants and for development of the host country.”
He highlighted that there is a global responsibility to prioritise the safety and well-being of migrants, adding that Rwanda welcomes the partnership with the United Kingdom to host asylum seekers and migrants, and offer them legal pathways to residence.
“This is about ensuring that people are protected, respected, and empowered to further their own ambitions and settle permanently in Rwanda if they choose,” Minister Biruta noted.
Commenting on the development, the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the global migration crisis and how illegal migration can be tackled requires new world-leading solutions.
“There are an estimated 80 million people displaced in the world and the global approach to asylum and migration is broken. Existing approaches have failed and there is no single solution to tackle these problems. Change is needed because people are dying attempting to come to the UK illegally,” she said.
“Today we have signed a world leading migration partnership with The Rwandan Government which can see those arriving illegally into the UK by dangerous methods relocated to Rwanda to have their claims for asylum considered and, if recognised as refugees, to build their lives there – helping break the people smugglers’ business model and prevent loss of life,"added Patel.
Under the programme, asylum seekers will be entitled to full protection under Rwandan law, equal access to employment, and enrolment in healthcare and social care services.
The UK’s upfront investment of £120 million will fund invaluable opportunities for Rwandans and migrants including secondary qualifications, vocational and skills training, language lessons, and higher education.
The partnership reflects Rwanda’s commitments to protecting vulnerable people around the world, and ensuring development and prosperity for Rwanda and its people.
Rwanda’s history has embedded a responsibility to protect vulnerable people around the world. Since 1994, Rwanda has been an active contributor to peacekeeping missions – indeed the largest troop contributor in Africa – and other humanitarian initiatives.
Rwanda was once one of the world’s leading producers of refugees, and as such is particularly concerned with taking urgent steps towards more humane solutions to the global migration crisis.
The country already hosts almost 130,000 refugees from multiple countries – including neighbours like the DRC and Burundi, but also from countries like Afghanistan and evacuees from Libya – all of whom have full legal and employment rights. This partnership reflects the ongoing effort to create a safe and empowering haven in Rwanda for all those seeking refuge.
Since 2001 the Uk has granted protection to around 80,000 people from African nations for asylum claims and from 2010, and have resettled 6,500 people.
This partnership also advances the Rwandan Government’s priority of improving the lives and livelihoods of the Rwandan people. Over the last 28 years, Rwanda has made significant strides towards national development, and has ambitious goals for the future. Under Vision 2050 – the national development plan – Rwanda aspires to become an upper middle-income country by 2035 and a high-income country by 2050.
The National Migration Policy recognises the value of migrants in contributing to our economic, cultural, and social development.
This partnership, which is an extension of Rwanda’s welcoming policy towards all migrants – whether they are seeking refuge or opportunity – is expected to advance the good cause.
With the investments made by the UK , the government will be able to invest in programmes including secondary qualifications, vocational and skills training, language lessons, and higher education, will be made available to migrants and Rwandans alike. Investments in tech-enabled jobs and small businesses will be a particular priority.
The fund will also fund further progress on some of the key initiatives that Rwanda has worked on with the United Kingdom. These include environmental policies – reflecting our national goal to become climate resilient and carbon neutral by 2050 – girls’ education, building back better from COVID-19, bolstering trade, investing in human capital, supporting effective and accountable institutions.