Amb. Busingye reacts to Archbishop Welby’s criticisms over planned deportation of migrants from UK to Rwanda

On 29 May 2023 at 10:08

Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Johnston Busingye has condemned the statement of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who recently criticized his country’s reforms aimed at addressing the migrant crisis. Archbishop Welby labeled the reforms as unproductive noting that he will make possible efforts to challenge them.

One of the reforms that Welby wants to challenge is the Rwanda-UK Migration and Economic Development Partnership, which involves the deportation of migrants residing illegally in the UK to Rwanda.

Under this agreement signed in April last year, migrants sent to Rwanda will receive assistance in starting a new life, having their asylum claims processed, accessing economic opportunities, or receiving support to return to their home countries if they so wish.

Archbishop Welby stated that the Illegal Migration Bill 2022-23, which was introduced in the House of Commons to change the law and prevent those who enter the UK illegally from remaining in the country, would be ineffective in addressing the migrant crisis. He accused the government of lacking foresight and neglecting the actual problems faced by the world.

In an opinion piece published by the Comment Central news outlet, Amb. Busingye criticized Archbishop Welby’s narrow-minded perspective on the partnership with Rwanda.

“It seems to me that criticisms of the partnership as a narrow-minded approach to the migration crisis are themselves based on incomplete, narrow-minded perspectives of Rwanda’s partnership with the UK,” he said.

“In reality, our partnership is specifically focused on overhauling an outdated, broken international system, and contributing to long-term global solutions to this global crisis,” added Amb. Busingye.

Considering figures from the International Organisation for Maritime, he emphasized the magnitude of the crisis, where over 50,000 lives have been lost on migration routes since 2014, with many of them being Africans attempting to reach Europe.

Drawing from Rwanda’s own history, he said that the country’s recent past, during which many Rwandans experienced what it means to be a refugee, enables them to empathise with ‘this human suffering’.

Amb. Busingye also emphasized the need for practical solutions rather than moralizing and indecision.

To effectively address the crisis, he believes it is crucial to understand its underlying causes.

Amb. Busingye highlighted the belief among migrants and asylum seekers that their immediate regional neighborhoods do not offer safe and prosperous lives, while the global north is seen as a perpetual source of opportunity. He acknowledged that the reasons behind this belief are complex and subject to further discussion.

The Ambassador asserted that the core defect in the global migration crisis lies in the necessity for individuals to embark on perilous journeys across thousands of miles, often at the mercy of ruthless traffickers, to seek safety and opportunity.

To combat this, Rwanda places great importance on creating a safe haven within its borders. Of these efforts, the country has implemented liberal visa and residency policies, providing safety, public services, legal rights, and employment opportunities for asylum seekers, refugees, and economic migrants.

Rwanda has also collaborated with international partners to rescue migrants from Libyan detention camps and offer them sanctuary. Continuous investments are made to improve refugee camps, accommodation facilities, and educational institutions.

The partnership between Rwanda and the UK is seen as a significant step towards sustainable solutions through international cooperation.

In addition to saving lives in the English Channel and disrupting criminal people-smuggling networks, the partnership offers investment opportunities for migrants to build new lives in Rwanda. This investment approach recognizes that addressing the pressures faced by European asylum systems requires investing in safe countries like Rwanda, which can better accommodate migrants. The investments contribute not only to development goals but also create new centers for migrants.

As Amb. Busingye explained, the partnership involves joint efforts between the governments of Rwanda and the UK to enhance the quality of life for both migrants and Rwandans.

This includes support for jobs, education, public services, and housing. During a visit by the UK Home Secretary, various developments were showcased, such as the Gahanga Housing Project, vocational training programs, and educational facilities like the Kepler Academy.

Amb. Busingye believes that such programs represent the future of a sustained global effort to end dangerous and illegal migration.

However, he acknowledged that global progress is hindered by the polarization and politicization of the migration and asylum debate.

In the UK, Amb. Busingye criticized the outdated and negative perceptions of Rwanda that have further complicated discussions.

He underscored that action and results are more important than mere words and expressed confidence that the partnership between Rwanda and the UK will pave the way for a sustainable solution to the global crisis.

Ultimately, Amb. Busingye hopes that global cooperation and investment will allow migrants and refugees worldwide to safely and swiftly reach cities with welcoming migration policies, providing safety, opportunity, and dignity.

Amb. Busingye has condemned Archbishop Welby’s criticisms over planned deportation of migrants from UK to Rwanda.