Rwanda says it remains committed to migrants deal with UK
‘We are not deterred by these developments,’ official says after European court blocks flight of asylum seekers
Rwanda remains committed to a controversial deal reached with the British government that would see asylum seekers attempting to enter the UK being sent to the East African country for resettlement, an official said Wednesday.
The comment by government deputy spokesman Alain Mukuralinda came after the European Court of Human Rights blocked a scheduled flight of asylum seekers.
The court ruled late Tuesday that the Rwandan flight could not take place until a High Court judicial review next month is completed. The case was brought forward by one of the deportees.
The ruling rendered irrelevant a previous decision by Britain's High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court -- all of which had refused to block the Rwandan flights.
Mukuralinda said the current situation of people making dangerous journeys cannot continue as it is due to untold suffering for many.
“We are not deterred by these developments. Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Mukuralinda said that given other avenues have been tried without addressing the migrants' challenge, it is better to “give chance” to the partnership with Rwanda.
The government set up hostels in the nation’s capital of Kigali, where the migrants will be hosted.
They will be supported with a new start in life. Those who want to leave Rwanda will be supported in a return to their country of origin or relocated to a third country, according to the government.
Rwanda maintains that it has been hosting migrants and other asylum seekers, facilitating them to formally relocate to places of their choice.
Nearly 1000 migrants who were stranded in Libya but resettled in Rwanda under the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding signed with the UN Refugee Agency, and the African Union is cited as an example.
The majority who relocated to Rwanda under the arrangement have been relocated to third countries, according to the government.
Formally called the Rwanda-UK Migration and Economic Development Partnership Initiative, the deal has come under criticism from rights activists and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who said no sufficient safeguards and standards are in place to facilitate such a deal.
Priti Patel, British home secretary who was in Rwanda last April to seal the deal, defended the deportation policy Wednesday in a statement to parliament, following the court ruling.
“It is no use pretending they are fleeing persecution when they are traveling from a safe country," she said.
“Our capacity to help is not infinite and public support for the asylum system will be fatally undermined if we do not act,” said Patel. “The critics of the Rwanda Partnership have no alternative proposal to deal with uncontrolled immigration.”
The plan is aimed to end people smuggling across the English Channel, according to the British government.
The UK is offering an upfront investment of £120 million ($156.9 million) to facilitate the implementation of the agreement, according to Patel.