UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly visits Rwanda

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 5 December 2023 at 09:54

The recently appointed United Kingdom (UK) Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has arrived in Kigali for a working visit during which he is expected to sign a revised treaty on the relocation of migrants from the UK to Rwanda.

Mr. Cleverly, representing the UK government, landed at Kigali International Airport on the morning of Tuesday, December 5, 2023. His visit is part of the ongoing efforts to finalize discussions and reinforce the Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP), an agreement signed between the two countries in April last year.

Upon arriving in Rwanda, Cleverly commenced his visit with a poignant visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi. Accompanied by the UK High Commissioner to Rwanda, Omar Daair, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Clementine Mukeka, he paid tribute to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and taken through Rwanda’s history.

Throughout his stay in Rwanda, Minister James Cleverly is set to hold talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta, and other officials. The focus of these discussions is expected to revolve around the MEDP, a partnership where the UK aims to relocate migrants staying illegally in the country and provide assistance in preparations to host asylum seekers.

This decision by the UK is aimed at discouraging illegal crossings into the country and reducing the budget spent on illegal migrants annually.

The MEDP outlines that upon arrival, asylum seekers from African countries and other regions will be treated with dignity, akin to Rwandans. There is an expectation that those willing to return to their home countries will be assisted in doing so. Initially planned for July 2022, the arrival of the first migrants in Rwanda was postponed following a complaint filed by organizations advocating for migrants’ rights.

Recently, the UK Supreme Court rejected the planned deportation of migrants to Rwanda, citing concerns about ’Rwanda being deemed unsafe for asylum seekers’. Nevertheless, the UK government has reiterated its commitment to ensuring the smooth implementation of these agreements.