Home » today » World » What does Rwanda gain from this? And when do the first flights depart? 5 questions about the controversial British migration deal

What does Rwanda gain from this? And when do the first flights depart? 5 questions about the controversial British migration deal

1. How many migrants and refugees reach the United Kingdom?

At least 30,000 migrants and refugees will reach British shores in 2023, according to figures from the British Ministry of Defense and Home Office. Since the start of 2024, the counter currently stands at 6,265.

Just this morning, a British journalist was reporting on the beach of Calais in France. Once again, dozens of people were ready to leave.

The number of people trying to reach the United Kingdom (UK) illegally by boat has increased significantly over the past 6 years. Since 2018, 120,000 people have ventured to cross the Channel. A dangerous journey that costs the lives of many people.

Immigration caused former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Minister Priti Patel a lot of political headaches. Johnson in particular, as a conservative head of government and in the aftermath of Brexit, had promised to implement a stricter policy.

The duo also came up with the controversial Rwanda plan in 2022. “To fight the despicable human smugglers who are turning the sea into a water graveyard,” it said. “Stop the boats” almost became a rallying cry.

Watch: today rubber boats left Calais again, killing at least 5 people

2. How much money does Rwanda receive for shelter?

Boris Johnson signed a 5-year deal with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The UK puts asylum seekers on a plane to Kigali. In exchange, Rwanda will host them and review their asylum procedure. And what goes for what.

The agreement was worth 428 million euros. 23,000 euros per person, and another 140 million euros once the first 300 people are rezoned. Rwanda says it will invest the money in its fast-growing economy.

Johnson met Kagame in 2022 in Rwanda at the summit of the British Commonwealth countries. Photo: Getty

According to current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the deal would save the UK billions in the long term. But Sunak does not immediately support that calculation with figures.

The current asylum system costs the UK around €4.6 billion. The British public broadcaster BBC writes that transferring a person to a third country costs 72,000 euros more than receiving him/her yourself.

3. When do the first flights depart?

Technically speaking, this can be done 12 days after King Charles has signed his signature. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had long wanted to see those flights depart. In the spring, he said early this year. Now it would be in 10 to 12 weeks.

The deportation would involve cooperation with a commercial airline. Which company remains a guess, as does the practical arrangement. This would involve flights on a regular basis.

The government has trained 500 workers to guide the asylum seekers. With another 300 additional employees in the coming months.

The Rwanda deal has long been met with criticism and opposition. Photo: AP

VRT NWS Africa expert Katrien Vanderschoot expects that human rights organizations will be obstructive. They want to go to the European Court or will file a complaint per asylum seeker in the UK.

NGOs such as Amnesty International and Liberty find the deal downright “shameful”, a threat to the rule of law. They refer to the ruling of the British Supreme Court. The court ruled at the end of 2023 that the Rwanda agreement is unlawful.

4. What does reception look like in Rwanda?

Asylum seekers from the UK can go to 1 reception place. That is the Hotel Hope, with room for about 100 people. The renovated Hotel Hope is located in Kigali’s Kagugu district. Originally, surviving students of the 1994 genocide stayed there.

Hotel Hope was decorated for its new purpose. Photo: AFP

Rwanda claims that asylum seekers are provided with necessary health care and support for 5 years, or until they become self-sufficient.

For the time being, there are many questions about the reception: what if more than 100 people are transferred (no maximum has been set)? What is the concrete situation with the asylum treatment in Rwanda? Will it be fair?

They also have their reservations in Rwanda itself. Vanderschoot noticed that the population has the same criticism as the British: they are concerned about employment if asylum seekers from, say, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia are accepted there. At the same time, the opposition in Rwanda is critical. She says that people are also fleeing Rwanda because they are being persecuted. Some of them end up in the United Kingdom.

5. Is this the first migration deal?

No. Rwanda already has experience with migration deals. These are a different type of chords. For example, with the African Union and the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

Refugees and asylum seekers held in Libyan detention centers are being flown to Rwanda. From there they can be repatriated to their country of birth. Or they can apply for asylum elsewhere or remain in Rwanda as citizens.

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