Africa Insights: UK-Rwanda Deal Still Falls Short

Africa Insights: UK-Rwanda Deal Still Falls Short
Rishi Sunak, U.K. prime minister, right, and Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, during their bilateral meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on May 4, 2023. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.)

Africa Insights is a podcast special from New Lines magazine exploring Africa’s unique stories from an African perspective.

The plight of illegal immigrants seeking asylum in the United Kingdom remains uncertain following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s latest legislation, which aims to send them to Rwanda to process their applications.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson set the U.K.-Rwanda deal in motion in April 2022, with the intention of deterring immigrants from crossing the Channel in small boats or inflatable dinghies.

The plan has been contested by several human rights organizations, with both the U.K. Appeals Court and Supreme Court deeming it unlawful.

Sunak’s bill comes a month after the Supreme Court ruled that Rwanda is not a safe third country.

The bill aims to overrule domestic and international court rulings that would block the deportation of asylum-seekers.

“There’s something distasteful about this, it’s morally repugnant. It also means Britain would be in danger of violating the refugee convention in all sorts of international agreements,” British Journalist Michela Wrong tells New Lines’ Kwangu Liwewe.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, the Rwandan government has maintained that they are offering a home and safety to the asylum-seekers.

However, opinions on Rwanda’s safety vary depending on who is asked.

“Currently, Rwanda is a very unstable country involved in wars in Congo, and you pick people from the U.K. and you take them to Rwanda by force. These people are not going to Rwanda out of their own accord,” Rwanda’s former head of intelligence, Kayumba Nyamwasa, tells New Lines.

More than 240 million pounds ($304 million) has so far been paid to the Rwandan government toward the deal, although so far no one has been deported to Kigali.

“Since none of them have actually moved to Kigali or flown there, why has all that money already been transferred and why has it already been spent is really a mystery,” says Nyamwasa.

Africa Insights is hosted by Kwangu Liwewe and produced by Patrick Hagan.

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