Rwanda has been a recipient of unfair and unwarranted criticism for agreeing to work with the United Kingdom to address the migration crisis through a migration and economic partnership signed earlier this year.
Since April, when Rwanda and the UK signed the Migration and Economic Development Partnership, the country has been subjected to accusations, including claims that Rwanda is not safe for refugees.
The Government of Rwanda has categorically denied the claims, pointing out that the country hosts more than 100, 000 refugees and more are still coming.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, on Tuesday said Rwanda will continue to play its role in helping and protecting refugees, paying less attention to critics.
During his one-day working visit to Rwanda, UK Home Secretary James Cleverly equally believes Rwanda has been targeted by unfair criticism for a plan it did not initiate yet the country remained committed to help and play its role.
During a press briefing with Rwandan counterpart, Dr. Biruta, Secretary Cleverly said he has huge admiration for the fortitude the Rwandan government has shown in terms of dealing with the criticism directed to the country.
The UK Minister reiterated Rwanda’s efforts to safeguard refugees and the records do show but the legal processes and criticism from organisations such as UNHCR, put the country in a difficult position.
Cleverly also referenced the UK Supreme Court decision which deemed Rwanda unsafe for refugees and asylum seekers, pointing out that even if there were some issues to be addressed, there is a desire by the Rwandan government to keep improving those processes.
He said Rwanda is working closely with international partners, like the UK and others, in order to continue the evolution and improvement of the processes, just as all governments should seek to do.
Cleverly said that the partnership between the UK and Rwanda is one aimed at addressing a global migration crisis and that is what it should be seen to be, emphasizing the importance of the new treaty that will operationalise the already existing partnership.
“The UK and Rwanda are working on this because it is important not because it is necessarily easy or that it buys you cheap or quick popularity,”
“We do this despite the fact that it is difficult and sensitive, because if we don’t address these issues, the people that will ultimately be the winners are of the people’s smugglers, they are the slave traders,” he said, adding that the criminal gangs and the extremists of voices who always take advantage of human difficulties and hardship will be the winners.
Cleverly said that Rwanda stepped in the gap to help solve the challenge of migration and the country deserves more credit than criticism for the role it is playing.
“Rwanda is stepping forward to be a thoughtful and careful partner in solving these incredibly difficult international issues. I think that they deserve a support in doing that,”
“I have been uncomfortable with the tone and the volume was on the criticism directed at Rwanda for having the courage to step forward and to try and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem,”
On his part, Dr. Biruta said Rwanda cannot be deterred by unfounded criticism and will continue to play its part in addressing global migration challenges.
“We continued with this partnership because we believe that we are doing the right thing to contribute to a solution to this global migration crisis,”
“We have refugees in this country, from all over the world, from Sudan, Afghanistan, and from the region, and we believe that we are doing the right thing in receiving these refugees,” Minister Biruta said.
He pointed out that the fact is there are situations around the world which will continue to produce refugees, it is not helpful for anyone to criticize a country like Rwanda which is contributing to a solution, while the world is not addressing the root causes of the migration crisis.
“We were unfairly treated by international organizations, by the media, by courts, but we believe we are doing the right thing and those who are criticizing us should bring us an alternative system they are going to propose to this problem,”
“Criticizing is one thing but providing a solution is another. We are working on the providing a solution and I think we will survive those criticisms from these various organizations and actors,” Dr. Biruta said.
The UK and Rwanda on Tuesday signed a treaty reinforcing the already existing agreement, with both Secretary Cleverly and Minister Biruta emphasizing that the treaty addresses some of the concerns raised by different parties in recent months.