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UK signs deal with Rwanda to send illegal migrants to the African nation, one-way flights to start within weeks

PM Borris Johnson said that some asylum seekers and all the migrants entering the United Kingdom illegally would be relocated to Rwanda

On Friday, the United Kingdom signed a $156 million deal with Rwanda to tackle the issue of illegal migrants. Calling it an ‘economic development partnership’, Home Secretary Priti Patel penned the agreement with Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta at Kigali, Rwanda. The scheme is aimed at saving countless lives from human trafficking.

Under the agreement, illegal immigrants to UK, and also some asylum seekers, will be sent to Rwanda by the UK govt. Once in Rwanda, they will be assessed for their settlement in the African nation. This means that people illegally entering UK  as stowaways in trucks or boats will not be able to stay in the country if they are caught. This is aimed at preventing people from illegally entering UK.

PM Borris Johnson said that some asylum seekers and all the migrants entering the United Kingdom illegally would be relocated to Rwanda. “The agreement will see some people arriving in the UK as stowaways on trucks or in small boats sent 4,000 miles to the East African country, where their asylum claims will be processed and, if successful, they will stay”, said Jhonson on April 15.

Terming it as an innovative approach, the Prime Minister further said that the plan will discourage people from making dangerous attempts to cross the English Channel, and put people-smuggling gangs out of business. He further added that those who fail to comply with the scheme would be swiftly shifted to a third country or their country of origin.

However, the scheme is being criticized by many including the opposition who accuse the Prime Minister of using the policy to distract the public attention from his political troubles. Also, Refugee and human rights groups called the plan inhumane, unworkable, and a waste of taxpayers’ money. The United Nations’ Refugee Agency urged Britain and Rwanda to reconsider.

UNHCR senior legal officer Larry Bottinic opined that the scheme is both disheartening and unnecessary. “Experience shows these agreements are eye-wateringly expensive, often violate international law, lead to the use of widespread detention and lead to more smuggling, not less. With this deal the UK is looking to shift its responsibilities towards refugees, not share them”, he said.

Meanwhile, agency’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs said that people fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing.

What will happen to migrants who reach Rwanda?

The agreement between the United Kingdom and Rwanda ensures that people who migrate will be protected, respected, and given a new way of life in Rwanda. They will seek permanent settlement depending on the choice of the migrants. Jhonson said on Friday that the scheme will be immediately implemented in the country and that all those who have entered the United Kingdom illegally since January 1, 2022 will be sent to Rwanda.


According to the reports, the relocated people in Rwanda will be given essential support and motivation including up to five years of training, integration, accommodation, and health care, so that they can resettle and thrive. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel also informed that Rwanda will invest in the infrastructure to support the future of migrants.

While the United Kingdom government has paid $156 million to Rwanda, reports mention that the country will have to spend extra around $26000 to $39000 for every migrant to be sent to Rwanda. The UK government reportedly has decided to take this decision after around 28000 refugees and migrants landed on beaches of southeastern England after crossing the English Channel in small boats last year.

In the year 2020, 8500 refugees had entered England via boats or by hiding in trucks and ferries. Some even died drowning in the chilling waters of the English channel. Now the deal ensures that no undetected boat enters the Kingdom.

It is important to note that though Home Secretary Priti Patel termed this agreement as a ‘global first’, several other countries like Australia, Israel, and Denmark have been sending asylum seekers overseas. Australia relocated more than 4000 to places like Nauru and Papua New Guinea between 2012 and 2019. Also, Israel signed deals with other countries to relocate illegal immigrants entering in from Sudan and Eritrea.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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