Rwanda attempted to spark controversy on Thursday when a government official stated that under a pact with the United Kingdom to house asylum seekers, the country will not accept migrants from neighboring countries. (REFUGEES FROM UGANDA AND OTHER NEIGHBORING STATES ARE EXCLUDED FROM RWANDA’S DEAL WITH THE UK)
While the UK has set conditions for unlawful migrants denied admission into the UK to be considered for resettlement in Rwanda, Kigali has stated that it will not accept asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Uganda, or Tanzania.
Dr Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that a system will be in place to examine arriving asylum seekers and migrants from the United Kingdom for criminal records and origin. Direct visitors from Rwanda’s immediate neighbors are not permitted.
Minister Biruta made the remarks during a press conference in Kigali on Thursday, where he signed a contract that will see unlawful migrants who enter the UK across the English Channel on small boats or through smugglers moved to Rwanda.
Rwanda has been attempting to improve relations with Uganda and Burundi since January, opening land borders and holding many diplomatic consultations with both nations.
Uganda and Rwanda have been at odds diplomatically since 2019, with Kigali accusing Uganda of hosting armed groups.
Several organizations and opposition figures have slammed the accord between Rwanda and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will provide roughly $160 million to Rwanda.
According to The East African, the first group of asylum applicants is expected to arrive in Kigali in May.
“We oppose this agreement. How could a wealthier, larger country be unwilling to host refugees and believe that because they have money, they can simply dump them in Rwanda? “It’s inexcusable,” said Frank Habineza, the Democratic Green Party’s president and a member of parliament.
During the press conference, Minister Biruta and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel highlighted that the scheme is for migrants arriving in the UK from January 2022 onwards.
“This program will focus on asylum seekers who have already arrived in the United Kingdom.” Other people who wish to travel to Rwanda to seek asylum or become refugees will be able to do so through existing methods, according to Dr. Biruta.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed strong opposition to the agreement and stated that it does not support countries’ externalization of asylum, particularly steps to transfer asylum seekers and refugees to other countries without enough protections to protect their rights.
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, described the arrangements as “moving asylum responsibilities and dodging international obligations.” (REFUGEES FROM UGANDA AND OTHER NEIGHBORING STATES ARE EXCLUDED FROM RWANDA’S DEAL WITH THE UK – celebrity jazz ug)