Unraveling reasons behind some critics opposing the UK-Rwanda migration treaty

By Esther Muhozi
On 5 February 2024 at 09:59

Charities in the United Kingdom (UK) dedicated to supporting refugees and migrants are actively working to prevent the deportation of individuals to Rwanda, fearing potential funding cuts.

Leading these efforts are organizations such as Freedom from Torture, focused on combating torture, and the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, advocating for immigration justice.

Notably, the latter has received the highest amount of funding, as reported by the Center for Migration Control.

According to the agency, the UK government has allocated £209 million to 265 families since 2020, equivalent to 330 billion Rwandan francs.

Freedom from Torture has been the primary beneficiary, receiving a total of £609,000, including contributions from the Ministry of Justice.

The Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit has also received substantial support, with £500,000 granted by the government since 2020. The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice spokesperson confirmed this funding during an interview with Telegraph, emphasizing its purpose in assisting the organization’s collaboration with the criminal justice system.

The UK aims to reduce the number of migrants through a program involving their relocation to Rwanda, with the government anticipating a significant reduction in the influx of migrants arriving by small boats.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has emphasized that the implementation of this plan will lead to a notable decrease in the number of immigrants entering the country.

Initiated to assist immigrants primarily arriving via small boats, charity organizations fear that the reduction in immigrant numbers will result in a decline or cessation of their activities.

Concerns have been raised that successful implementation of the program may lead to a lack of funding for these organizations, as their perceived mission would be accomplished.

In response to the program, certain organizations have openly opposed it and launched a campaign to depict Rwanda as a country lacking in human rights and impoverished.

Rwanda’s government disputes these claims, citing its rapid development and pointing to its recognition by organizations like UNHCR for its positive treatment of refugees and migrants.

Freedom from Torture has taken legal action against the program, asserting its non-compliance with international law and securing a decision to halt its implementation. The organization’s leadership has vowed to continue advocating against the program while the government remains committed to its execution.

In December 2023, the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit declared its ongoing opposition to the program, expressing determination to resist the government’s efforts to popularize it.

The British Ministry of Justice disclosed that the government’s financial support to these organizations includes a stipulation prohibiting the use of funds to influence parliamentary and governmental decisions.

Consequently, Freedom from Torture lost its funding in July 2023 for violating this provision. The program, rooted in an agreement signed in April 2022 and renewed in December 2023, remains a contentious issue.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta exchanging documents with UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly after signing the revised migration treaty in Kigali last year.