The United Kingdom and Rwanda say the implementation of the UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership is taking shape, with the UK Home Affairs Secretary, Suella Braverman, who is in Rwanda on a two-day working visit stating that the first group of asylum seekers will arrive in Rwanda ‘very soon’.
Braverman, who arrived in Rwanda on Saturday morning said that he was impressed by what she saw in Rwanda, after visiting different locations, including the Bwiza Riverside Estate in Nyarugenge district, where the refugees arriving from the UK will be housed and Norrsken, East Africa’s largest innovation hub for young entrepreneurs.
Braverman later held a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta to discuss issues of bilateral importance, including plans to airlift asylum seekers from the UK.
The two officials reiterated the move will not only deter thousands of immigrants from crossing the English channel but it will also prevent them from making the precarious journeys and at the same time save them from human trafficking cartels.
Braverman, who said that Rwanda has the potential to receive thousands of asylum seekers, said that she is confident that her government will succeed with the plan to relocate asylum seekers, following a recent high court victory against legal challenges seeking to block the plan.
On his part, Dr. Biruta emphasized that the UK-Rwanda partnership presents an important opportunity for the two countries to lead the way in addressing irregular migration crisis, using a model never used anywhere before, with the hope that it can be replicated elsewhere if it succeeds.
“This innovative partnership represents an important development in our efforts to address irregular migration and we are glad to be working closely with the UK. The UK is investing in Rwandans capability to offer better opportunities for migrants and Rwandans alike,” Dr. Biruta said.
Braverman said that an addendum to the existing agreement, penned in April last year, was signed in a move to proceed with implementation.
“Today we have signed an addendum to MEDP, which will expand the provision of support to people being relocated to Rwanda. There is a global migration crisis, many countries around the world are grappling with unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants,”
“I sincerely believe that this world leading partnership between to allies and two friends, United Kingdom and Rwanda, will lead the away in finding a solution, which is both humanitarian and compassionate and also a fair and balanced,”
“I’ve been incredibly impressed with my visit today, both to meet local innovators, and entrepreneurs, to see the job creation and the wealth creation going on in the vibrant economy of Rwanda, but also to the Bwiza Estate, to see the extensive construction work which is being rolled out,” Braverman said.
Braverman said that some of the houses, located in Nyarugenge district, will be used to shelter some of the migrants when they are relocated to Rwanda, as they get integrated in society.
Dr Biruta said that criminal cartels cashing in on moving immigrants will be dealt a blow.
“I think something we agree on is that there is a migration crisis and the current system doesn’t benefit anyone, not to the migrants themselves, not the countries which are target by these migrants but if there is someone who is benefiting from the current system , it is just these criminal human smuggling networks,”
“What we want to do is to create an innovative solution, to be able to offer these asylum seekers and migrants alike, safety, security and opportunity for them to live a decent life. We are going to work with the UK to propose that solution,” Dr. Biruta pointed out.
Minister Biruta said that they understand it is a new solution they are bringing on the table and they are looking to be adjusting during the course of implementation, until it works out.
“We hope that other countries will join once they see that the solution is working,” Dr. Biruta said, adding while the main aim is to ensure safety for immigrants, the move will also dismantle the criminal networks profiteering from smuggling people.
Braverman added that the global migration crisis manifested itself in the UK, with over 45,000 people making the journey across the English channel last year alone, compounded by unsustainable pressure on accommodation and the cost of living.
She pointed out that last year ill-attempted efforts by migrants to cross the channel into the UK led to fatal results, with some dying in the channel, adding that the compassionate and humanitarian thing to do is to find another solution as the two countries are doing.
“As the Minister said, there is a real opportunity here to to resettle people in safe and secure environments where they can lead a prosperous and healthy life and that is why I am very excited about this agreement which I believe will be a model for other countries in the future,”
Asked about the timeline of the first batch of asylum seekers arriving in Rwanda, given the legal impediments the plan has encountered, Braverman said “as soon as possible”. She pointed out that the high court ruling in the UK confirmed that the partnership is lawful.
“We had a very strong victory in the high court in England, at the end of last year, where senior judges emphatically and authoritatively ruled that the MEDP is lawful, that it complies with human rights laws and international obligations, and that Rwanda is a safe country,”
“We’re now the appeal court. There will be a hearing next month and we will await the judgment of the judges and I’m not going to preempt the decision of the judiciary, but if we are successful, we will envisage the delivery of the substance of our agreement as quickly as possible.