October 4, 2023

Britain has flown refugees to Rwanda

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In: Julius Fastnacht

London will send unwanted asylum seekers to Rwanda in the future. The East African country wants – but the local human rights situation is complicated.

LONDON – The British government plans to bring the first asylum seekers to Rwanda in two weeks, based on an agreement signed in April. Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on Tuesday (May 31) that the first flight to the country, which landed in East Africa, was scheduled for June 14.

“Our world-leading partnership with Rwanda is a key part of our strategy to transform the broken asylum system and disrupt the business model of smugglers,” Patel said. According to the Interior Ministry, the first asylum seekers have already been deported to East Africa. There they must receive a “generous support package” including five years of education, housing and health care. But that’s just the beginning: in the long run, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Great Britain wants to fly “tens of thousands” of migrants to Rwanda.

Great Britain asylum agreement: Human rights are highly controversial

In fact, Rwanda is considered a growing industrial country. According to the Union Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, it is one of the few African countries to have largely implemented the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Preity Patel speaks in Parliament on the controversial asylum agreement with Rwanda. The British Home Secretary (Conservative) is seen as tough on immigration issues. © Jessica Taylor / UK Parliament / AFP

Volkswagen operates one of a select few African manufacturing sites in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. In the international arena, President Paul Kagame is building his reputation as a politician whose words will be heard on the African continent.

But the dictatorial rule of the longtime ruler, respectively, is particularly exploding in the treaty with Great Britain. Although Johnson described Rwanda as “one of the safest countries in the world”, it has gained global recognition for “welcoming and co-ordinating immigrants.” However, observers say the human rights situation in East Africa is exemplary. Human rights groups have reported cases against deportation plans, according to which British action violates the International Covenant on Refugees.

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, has helped his country prosper in recent years.  But he rules with an iron hand.
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, has helped his country prosper in recent years. But he rules with an iron hand. © Andreas Arnold / dpa

New asylum deal with Rwanda: Johnson under domestic pressure

Through this agreement, Ruler Kagame wants to further expand his position as a trusted international partner. The British government, which initially transferred £ 120 million to Kigali, is primarily exposing itself to domestic political pressure.

Preventing illegal immigration is one of Johnson’s key promises before taking office in 2019. However, during his tenure, the number of people who crossed the English Channel into Britain by boat reached record levels.

Great Britain: New asylum agreement with Rwanda due to Brexit

According to the FAZ report, Brexit also plays a role. As London was not allowed to use the Dublin agreement, he said, “Refugees can no longer go [EU-]Send visiting countries like Italy, ”said Nicole Hirt, an African expert at the Giga Institute in Hamburg.

Home Secretary Prithi Patel also strongly condemned the move. Patel, who is considered a hardliner, has drawn attention in the past with drastic advances in immigration issues: in 2020 he proposed to accommodate settlers on a small island in the South Atlantic. (juf with dpa / AFP / epd)