Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Rwanda Defends Migrant Deportation Plan from UK Amid European Criticism

Sat 27 Apr 2024 | 03:30 PM
By Ahmad El-Assasy

The Rwandan government, under President Paul Kagame, announced on Friday its readiness to receive all migrants deported by the UK. The government urged critics of the deportation plan to allow both countries to implement it effectively. 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak anticipates that the first flights could depart within 10 to 12 weeks, following the recent parliamentary approval of legislation aimed at overcoming legal barriers to the deportation of migrants to countries where they might face mistreatment, as reported by Reuters.

Rwanda's Capacity and Readines

Alan Mukuralinda, the deputy spokesperson for the Rwandan government, told Reuters, "It doesn’t matter the number announced to arrive tomorrow or the day after... we are capable of hosting them." 

He noted that while Rwanda is not yet aware of specific dates or numbers, the country has a long history of hosting refugees from the Great Lakes region of Africa and elsewhere. 

Rwanda has temporary housing ready for migrants from the UK, with long-term facilities currently under construction as part of the asylum process and potential residency opportunities.

Mukuralinda also commented on the UK's migration plan: "For two years, critics have been shouting without proposing an alternative... Today I want to say that the shouting is over... We do not claim this solution to be miraculous, but at least let the two countries implement it."

King Charles III Approves Legislation

The legislation received royal assent from King Charles III on Thursday, marking the final stage in the legislative process, effectively endorsing the decision previously made by Parliament earlier this week.

The royal assent was announced in the House of Lords on Thursday, making the Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill official law. The bill was approved by Parliament in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with Prime Minister Sunak stating on Monday that he expected the first deportation flights to Rwanda to take off within the next 10 to 12 weeks.

European Criticism and Concerns

French President Emmanuel Macron criticized the plan on Thursday, labeling it as "ineffective," while acknowledging the ongoing defense cooperation between the two countries. 

Speaking at the Sorbonne University in Paris about the future of the European Union, Macron expressed his disbelief in the model, which involves deporting people to other African countries or elsewhere, where they arrive in our territories illegally and are not from these countries. 

He added, "We are creating a political geography that betrays our values and will establish new dependencies and prove absolutely ineffective," as reported by Agence France-Presse.

Additionally, the UK is paying France to support police efforts along the northern French coast to prevent migrants from embarking on dangerous journeys across the English Channel in small boats. 

On Tuesday, five people, including a child, died while attempting to cross, bringing the death toll on this route to 15 this year, compared to 12 in 2023.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael Martin told a British newspaper on Friday that the UK’s threat to deport migrants to Rwanda is driving them to Ireland. 

Martin explained to The Daily Telegraph that this policy is already impacting Ireland as people are "afraid" to stay in the UK. Asylum seekers are seeking "sanctuary here and within the European Union instead of facing the possibility of being deported to Rwanda." 

The border between Northern Ireland, part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, is the only land border between Britain and the EU.