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Rwanda signs agreement with London to welcome illegal immigrants arriving in Britain

Rwanda signs agreement with London to welcome illegal immigrants arriving in Britain

Rwanda today signed a multimillion-euro agreement with London to accept immigrants and asylum seekers of various nationalities arriving illegally in Britain, Kigali said today during a visit to the country by British Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“Rwanda welcomes this co-operation with Britain in welcoming asylum seekers and migrants and providing them with legal avenues for living in this East African country,” Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta said in a statement.

The agreement with Rwanda, which will be financed by Britain with 120 million pounds (144 million euros), stipulates that immigrants – whose nationality or way of arriving on British soil is not specified – will be “integrated to communities across the country, “said Kigali.

“Our goal is to ensure that people are protected, respected and able to pursue their ambitions and settle permanently in Rwanda, if they so wish,” Biruta added.

Reactions

The London plan provoked strong reactions, with human rights groups denouncing it as “inhumane” and the opposition saying British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was trying to divert public attention after he was fined. at a birthday party amid a lockdown.

Although Johnson is committed to controlling immigration, one of the key issues in the Brexit campaign, the number of illegal immigrants arriving in Britain crossing the Channel tripled in 2021.

Eager to boost their popularity and attract voters, the Conservative prime minister and his government have been trying for months to reach agreements with third countries to send migrants there until their case is heard. Ghana, one of the countries that was rumored to be able to reach an agreement with Britain on the issue, has categorically denied it.

In a speech to be delivered today from Kent, near the English coast where migrant boats arrive, Johnson will present his plans to “dismantle trafficking networks, to intensify operations in the English Channel, to “to prosecute criminals and to end the barbaric trade in human misery,” Downing Street said.

“I understand that these people are looking for a better life (…) and hope for a new beginning,” Johnson said. “But these hopes, these dreams are being exploited. These traffickers are exploiting vulnerable people and turning the Channel into a wet grave.”

Sending asylum seekers to countries more than 6,000 kilometers away from Britain aims to discourage those seeking to reach British soil.

More and more migrants are already trying to cross the English Channel each year: in 2021, 28.5 thousand people tried to make the dangerous crossing, compared to 8,466 in 2020 and only 299 in 2018, according to data from the British Home Office.

But human rights activists denounce this “scandalous” and “barbaric” policy, as they describe it.

Amnesty International’s director of refugee and immigrant rights, Steve Valdez-Simonts, has criticized “a scandalously ill-conceived idea” which “will cause pain while squandering huge sums of public money”. He also stressed Rwanda’s “shameful human rights record”.

According to Refugee Action general manager Tim Naor Hilton, this is a “cowardly, barbaric and inhuman treatment of people leaving to escape persecution and war.”

The opposition criticized the “inhuman” plan, while even members of the Conservatives expressed their opposition to it. MP Tobaya Elwood told the BBC it was “a gross attempt to divert public attention” away from Johnson’s “partygate”.

In addition, the British Parliament is preparing to adopt a bill that will allow the establishment of centers abroad to which migrants will be sent until their application for asylum is considered, but will also allow the port to expel migrant boats out of British territorial waters.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the bill, if passed, would run counter to the Geneva Convention on Refugees, signed by Britain.

“An important deterrent,” says Johnson

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson stressed today that those who try to “take advantage” of the British immigration system will move to third countries or their country of origin.

Speaking from Kent in the south of England, Johnson said: “We have to make sure that the only way to get asylum in Britain is to be safe and legal and that those who are trying to get around the queue or take advantage of the system will be transported directly and humanely to a safe third country or country of origin “.

Earlier, Rwanda announced that it had reached an agreement with Britain to receive immigrants and asylum seekers of various nationalities arriving illegally on British soil.

The British Prime Minister estimated that the agreement with Rwanda could affect “tens of thousands” of people, estimating that the risk of being in this African country instead of Britain would be a “significant deterrent” for illegal immigrants.

“Anyone entering Britain illegally today and anyone who arrived after January 1 will be able to be transferred to Rwanda,” Johnson said, adding that the agreement did not set a ceiling on the number of migrants the African country could accept.

Johnson also announced that as of today, the control over the illegal crossings of migrants in the English Channel will be transferred to the Navy from the port.

“As of today, the Royal Navy is taking operational control of the English Channel instead of the port (…) with the aim of preventing any boats from reaching the United Kingdom without being noticed,” he said.

For this purpose, 50 million pounds (60 million euros) will be released for new material and human resources, but also for helicopters, aircraft and drones.

“This will send a very strong message to those who are piloting these ships: if you endanger the lives of others in the English Channel, you risk spending your life in prison,” he warned.

Johnson, however, did not pursue another controversial plan that called for the repatriation of migrant boats outside British waters.

With information from AMPE

Source: Capital