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Reactions of outrage after the signing on Thursday April 14 of an agreement between Rwanda and the United Kingdom on the issue of migrants. Under the terms of the deal, London will send some of its asylum seekers, who arrived on its territory illegally, to Rwanda. In exchange for financial aid, Kigali agrees to host these immigrants, until their file is processed, and possibly to integrate them into the country. International human rights organizations denounce this subcontractor of the migratory issue. In Rwanda, this announcement also provoked reactions.
For the Rwandan opposition, the United Kingdom must not comply with its international obligations. “ We believe that rich countries like Britain should not transfer their obligation to third countries, like Rwanda, just because they have enough money to influence and impose their will. ”, explains Frank Habineza, president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, who fears that this situation will cause tensions.
« Rwanda is already quite densely populated, there is no longer enough land to go around, there are already land disputes and competition for natural resources, ensures. Welcoming immigrants from Britain will only further accentuate this land issue, posing daily challenges and risks creating conflict between Rwandans and immigrants. »
Frank Habineza believes that Kigali should focus primarily on unemployment among young Rwandans. ” We already have our own problems that we have to solve: young people, for example, who are trying to survive without work. The unemployment problem has worsened with the Covid epidemic, and sending immigrants here will only exacerbate this problem. We believe that Rwanda, which is hosting the Commonwealth summit in a few months, wanted to please the UK, but the Rwandans themselves have nothing to gain from this deal. »
► Also read: UK wants to send its asylum seekers to Rwanda to discourage illegal immigrants
The same story on the side of the Unified Democratic Forces. Rwanda does not have the means to welcome these immigrants, believes its president, Victoire Ingabire. “ I condemn the Rwandan authorities, who agree to carry the burden and cannot bear it. We support the refugees with an amount of 120 million pounds, but it is not enough. Rwanda has its own problems. »
Like Frank Habineza, he points out the great problem of unemployment in the country. “ Rwanda says that if some asylum seekers are not selected to return to Britain, it will offer them education and employment. But this is not true! There is a large majority of young Rwandans who have completed their studies and who are unemployed. You are not able to offer employment to your young people and you offer to give it to the refugees? It’s a lie. »
For Victoire Ingabire, this agreement will solve nothing, neither for London nor for Kigali. ” Two or three years ago, Israel sent refugees from Eritrea, from Ethiopia. Only five of the hundred that had been sent to Rwanda remain. People come here with the promise that they will get a job and if they don’t find it, they leave and Britain will be left with the same people. This is not a solution. »
Still inside the United Democratic Forces, Pierre Célestin Rwalinda, general secretary of the party, wonders: is the strategy of exchanging migrants for money, as agreed with the United Kingdom, in line with the values of the Commonwealth?
► Also read: UK-Rwanda Agreement: “A Deliberate Desire to Deter Immigration”
With our correspondent in Kigali, laure broulard
The United Kingdom has announced that any migrant who arrives by an illegal route to its territory can be automatically deported to Kigali, without the possibility of returning to London. There are no details on the selection criteria of the British authorities, but interested persons will be able to appeal the decision.
The Rwandans in any case will have the floor: they have already announced that they will reject minors and people with a criminal record. The Foreign Minister, Vincent Biruta, even specified that Rwanda preferred not to receive immigrants from neighboring countries, that is, from the DRC, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania, within the framework of this agreement, without explaining why. 130,000 refugees from the region already live in Rwanda, mostly in camps.
To the migrants who arrive in Kigali and decide to stay there, Rwanda promises regularization, integration into society, decent housing, mutual health insurance and even access to vocational training. A program funded primarily by the UK. It remains to be seen when and under what conditions the deal will come into force, as it risks being challenged in Britain’s courts.