Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Rwanda’s Deputy Government Spokesman said Tuesday (Jul. 09) that the agreement with the UK to deport asylum-seekers to the east AFrican nation included no stipulation about repaying funds.

This comes after the UK’s incoming Labour leader Keir Starmer said Saturday that the controversial scheme was “dead “; and his government vowed to scrap the policy.

“This was not a loan given to Rwanda, this was money sent to Rwanda to carry out specific actions. These actions have been carried out. There is no reason why these funds should be returned,” Alain Mukuralinda said.

“[…] The United Kingdom has not made the request, the (UK) government has not said that if they terminate the Treaty, the funds have to be returned,” he added.

“If the UK government has decided that the Treaty is terminated and can no longer be implemented, then, Rwanda takes notice of the decision and complies with it.”

The plan was billed by the previous British government as a solution that would deter migrants from risking their lives on a journey to illegaly enter the UK as they could be deported to East Africa. It has cost the government 300 million dollars and court battles, with no deportation flight taking off so far.

What’s next for Rwanda?
“As I have been explaining since the start, Rwanda was not the applicant […] We remain as we are, we keep our philosophy that if there is someone that needs help, we will help them. If there are other proposals to solve the problem of migration, we will take part, we will negotiate, we will examine them and if they are interesting, we will be part of them,” the Rwandan Deputy Government Spokesman said.

Through a 462.7 million US dollar agreement signed by the two countries in 2022, British tax-payers’ money funded the maintenance of the hotels built in Rwanda to host deported asylum-seekers.

“For the funds that have already been transferred to Rwanda, first of all, it is important to say that these funds are not in an account at the National Bank or anywhere else. These funds have been used. That is why, first of all, I said that we had started to implement the Treaty. Secondly, the agreement we signed did not stipulate that we should return the money.”

Sowhat will become of the facilities? Alain Mukuralinda is adament, they will not go to waste: “As for as the permanent dwellings, it was stipulated that Rwandans share them with the migrants. Today, the migrants are not coming any more. Rwandans will live in those dwellings.

Earlier this year, Botswana’s foreign minister, Lemogang Kwape disclosed in an interview with a South African TV channel that the British government approached Botswana to receive migrants deported from the UK.

This came in the wake of earlier reports in the British press suggesting that the UK government sought to implement a scheme similar to its controversial Rwanda initiative in Botswana, Armenia, Ivory Coast, and Costa Rica.

By Joy

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