The transformation in Rwanda has definitely not gone unnoticed and as expected, several opinions have been gathered. While some believe this change is for good, others expect the worst, and much criticism is aimed at President Paul Kagame’s government, which has been in power since 1994.
The asylum seekers deal between the UK and Rwanda has raised major concerns. We hope this article clears your doubts and confusion about the authenticity of this agreement.
What is the Asylum Partnership Arrangement?
On April 14, 2022, exactly fourteen days before the Nationality and Borders Bill was given Royal Assent, the United Kingdom and Rwanda signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the provision of an “asylum partnership arrangement”. The policy marked the first arrangement between the UK and another country for the removal of asylum seekers and became part of the government’s new plan for Immigration.
According to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the asylum partnership is the greatest overhaul of Rwanda’s immigration system in decades.
It is simply a new arrangement devised by the government which allows the UK government to send asylum applicants to Rwanda, where they can have their applications processed in line with Rwandan national law and the Refugee Convention.
It may be referred to as a “one way ticket” because the UK’s legal responsibility for these asylum applicants ends once they are relocated to Rwanda and these individuals are not allowed to return back to the UK once they are relocated.
Although the number of asylum seekers the UK plans to send remains unknown, Rwanda, which has a population of 13 million, has already made available 102 rooms at the Hallmark Residence located in Kigali’s Nyarugunga suburb. There are about thirty fully furnished three and four-bedroom bungalows, each with its own gates and gardens.
Is the arrangement legal?
The arrangement between the UK and Rwanda is absolutely legal and the government of both countries describes it as a “migration and economic development partnership”. It is estimated that about £120m ($150m) will be invested by the UK government into the economic development and growth of Rwanda as well as finance the asylum operations, accommodation, and integration similar to the cost spent in the UK for such services.
Already, over 900 African asylum seekers from Libya have been taken into Rwanda since 2019 under a deal with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the African Union (AU). These individuals are given a temporary housing in a camp located at Gashora which is about 40 miles (60 km) away from Kigali. The UNHCR describes it as an ‘Emergency Transit Mechanism’ and more than half of the individuals sent to Rwanda have been successfully relocated to several countries like Sweden, Norway, France, Belgium, and Canada.
Under paragraph 345C of the Immigration Rules, an applicant may be removed from a “safe third country” if their asylum application is treated as inadmissible. Several different reasons can render an application inadmissible.
These include the failure to make an application in the safe third country where the applicant passes through. Technically, the provision of this application helps to capture individuals crossing the channel on small boats. The UK has been unable to make arrangements with other countries to remove these individuals and can only do so in rare circumstances, for instance, in situations where the individual has refugee status in a safe third country.
The UN site in Rwanda for asylum seekers is definitely not the refugee camp you sometimes see with tents or plastic sheeting stacked onto thorns. These camps already have permanent structures and run a well-structured affair focused on teaching refugees who suffered from the harsh conditions in Libyan camps, the skills to assist them in their new life. The camp has a driving school and offers language classes, amongst other things.