The United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is in Rwanda, where she will sign and announce, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta, what has been termed as the “Rwanda-UK Migration and Economic Development Partnership”.
In a statement seen by KT Press, to be issued later today, both countries say 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 two countries say, adding that the partnership to be announced later today will address this urgent humanitarian crisis by tackling its roots.
It is believed that by relocating migrants to Rwanda and investing in personal development and employment for migrants, the two 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, this 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.” it adds.
Minister Biruta affirmed the development, stating that the partnership reiterates Rwanda’s commitment to protecting vulnerable people around the world, and ensuring development and prosperity for Rwanda and its people
“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,”
“There is a global responsibility to prioritise the safety and well-being of migrants, and Rwanda welcomes this 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.” Dr. Biruta said.
Under the programme, migrants will be entitled to full protection under Rwandan law, equal access to employment, and enrolment in healthcare and social care services. Furthermore, the UK’s upfront investment of £120 million will fund opportunities for Rwandans and migrants including secondary qualifications, vocational and skills training, language lessons, and higher education.
What reasons has Rwanda given for entering the deal with?
The Government of Rwanda has advanced a number of reasons for entering the partnership with the U.K. 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. Rwanda 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.
The Government says 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.
The statement further stated that the 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.
Rwanda further says that 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 – will advance the agenda.
Furthermore, the Rwandan government says the investments made by the UK will be invaluable in furthering some of the country’s key development goals. The government says it will be able to invest proceeds from the partnership in programmes including secondary qualifications, vocational and skills training, language lessons, and higher education, which 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 go towards furthering progress on some of the key initiatives that the government has worked on with the United Kingdom, including environmental policies to drive Rwanda towards becoming a climate resilient and carbon neutral country by 2050.
Part of the fund will go into funding girls’ education, building back better from COVID-19, bolstering trade, investing in human capital, and supporting effective, accountable institutions, according to the Government of Rwanda.