A week before the first arrival was due, the workers were putting the finishing touches on a small wooden shed next to the inn’s restaurant. “This will be a store so they can buy what they need here instead of going out,” explains Ismael Pekina, the company’s general manager. Two covered areas in the gardens will serve as smoking areas, and the secluded tent will also serve as an interview and play area.
There is an airport-style security check in front of the reception, including a luggage scanner and guards with metal detectors. They are polite, professional and thorough. “You can see we’re ready for immigrants even today,” Pacina told CNN hours before the first round of legal deportation challenges began in the UK last week. Lawsuits against the policy have so far been in vain, and Britain’s first flight to Rwanda departs on Tuesday.
Upon arrival, two immigrants will share each room with shared bathrooms and laundry rooms on each floor. They will also have two red-carpeted prayer rooms overlooking the Kigali hills, free Wi-Fi and computers to track their trials. The Rwandan authorities point to the relative privilege that immigrants will have here compared to the verdict in British detention centers.
“We want them to have a safe and dignified home, and there is also a package that they will receive so that they can acquire the skills to get an education and possibly start a business,” said Yolande Makulu, spokeswoman for the Rwandan government to CNN.
The UK says it will pay Rwanda £ 120 million ($ 145 million) over the next five years to fund the program. In addition, the UK has also pledged to pay for the treatment and integration costs of each beneficiary, which covers the costs of legal advice, caseworkers, translators, housing, food and health care. According to a parliamentary inquiry, the British government said it expects these costs to be comparable to the cost of asylum treatment in the UK, which is around £ 12,000 per year. person.
The United Kingdom has refused to disclose the cost of the flights it will charter to transport the deportees to Rwanda. In its latest annual report, the Home Office said it paid £ 8.6 million to charter 47 deportation flights with 883 people by 2020. While the cost of individual flights varies by destination, the figures mean the Home Office has spent an average of £ 183,000 per flight. 9,700 per person.
Since there is no limit to the number of migrants, it is likely that thousands will flock to Kigali during the first five years of the plan.
Human Rights Watch has been monitoring and investigating the human rights situation in Rwanda for decades, documenting violations ranging from “repression of freedom of expression to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture by the Rwandan authorities.”
Britain’s plan has also been criticized by the only opposition party that ran against Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame in the last election, Rwanda’s Green Democratic Party, which says it cannot afford it. Rwanda is the most populous country in Africa. Do you think it would be easy for Rwanda to help these people? ‘ Jean-Claude Ntizimana, Secretary General of CNN.
Rwanda is about a tenth the size of Britain, but has almost 13 million people, about a fifth of Britain’s population.
The Green Party accuses Britain of violating its international obligations to transport unwanted migrants 4,000 miles to Rwanda. “If the election of refugees is not inhumane and illegal,” Ntizimana said.
The Rwandan government insists that it is completely legal.
“There are no laws that can be broken with this partnership,” McCullough told CNN. “Nothing in the Refugee Convention prevents asylum seekers from moving to another safe country.”
McCullough admits that a similar program with Israel did not work and that Rwanda gave up “very quickly”. But she says the UK migration agreement is very different and that it will work. In fact, she said, Rwanda may soon also receive immigrants from Denmark, as negotiations are coming to an end.
Recently, Rwanda teamed up with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to host vulnerable asylum seekers who had been evacuated from Libya. During the three years the program was in operation, well over 1,000 migrants passed through the alarm center in Gachora. According to the center’s director, migrants stay on average four to eight months before being resettled abroad. Migrants have three options: resettlement elsewhere, voluntary return to their home country or local integration into Rwandan society. None of them chose the camp leader, according to Faris Royombo.
“You can not compare them (Libya and Rwanda),” said Zimen Fasaha, 26, an Eritrean refugee in the Ghashoura transit center. He spent four years during what he described as horrific conditions in Libya, where he repeatedly, but in vain, tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. “It’s like going from hell to heaven.”
Although the 11 months he spent in Rwanda in the camp were safer and easier, he was determined to leave.
And time is not alone in this. None of the refugees at the emergency center that CNN spoke to wanted to stay in Rwanda.
Nyalada Gatluak Gani, 26, from South Sudan, dreams of moving to Finland with her one and a half year old son. “What I want is not here, it is there,” she said.
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