The UK is not the only one interested in deporting refugees to Rwanda

On 14 April 2022, the UK government published a an agreement with Rwanda Refugees seeking asylum are deported there to enter the country illegally. On June 15, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued paralyzed The first posting based on a report from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regarding the status of asylum seekers in the sub-Saharan country, as well as the lack of a firm decision on the asylum claims of many of the deportees.

However, what happened in the UK is not an isolated case. A few months ago, the Danish Minister of Immigration announced in an interview with Reuters It has begun talks with Rwanda to transfer asylum seekers who enter the country there. In fact, as of March 1 this year, Denmark was the country that contributed the most to Finance of UNHCR’s operations in sub-Saharan Africa, with a contribution of nearly $2 million.

On the other hand, information appeared in 2018 indicating that Israel also concluded a similar agreement with the aim of deporting 38,000 illegal African immigrants, according to the Israeli newspaper. Ha’aretz. However, the Rwandan government to reject That this was true. Last April, after announcing the agreement with the United Kingdom, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, slipped into a Press Conference What is there Other countries “call you” for the same thing.

Rwanda doubles asylum claims in a year

The latest data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicates that there are about 130,000 Recognized refugees – who represent 1.1% of the country’s total population – while there were in the UK last year 136000 refugees That is 0.2% of the population.

In 2021, asylum applications in Rwanda doubled. yes 204 people have applied for refugee status In the sub-Saharan country in 2020, there were 408 in 2021. Since 2010, this number has only been exceeded in 2012 and 2013, when Harassed by the March 23 guerrilla movement In the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, forcing more than 150,000 people from their homes. Of these, about 30,000 have arrived in Rwanda seeking asylum. Today, Congolese still represent 60% of the refugees residing in Rwanda.

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There are still too many refugees to reach Rwanda

According to the British government, its sub-Saharan partner still has many refugees to take in. “Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the coming years,” he said. British Prime MinisterBoris Johnson after the agreement was announced.

However, it should be noted that Rwanda has a population of nearly 13 million people Population density of more than 500 people per square meterto me data The Rwandan government itself, which already in a 2014 report described the density of its country as “one of the highest in Africa”. In the United Kingdom, the population density was 273,000 people per square meter in 2018 (latest available data), half the population of Rwanda, according to the latest data from Eurostat.

Despite this, the Rwandan government Approved all asylum applications In 2021, while in the UK only 28% of 55,000 issued. And he is too pointing to UNHCR, “About 85% of refugees live in developing regions, not in wealthy industrialized nations.”

Rwanda has been a country that has been open to welcoming refugees for more than two decades. I’ve always left the borders open and promised to release Global Compact on Refugees”, they explain to Newtral.es from the UN High Commissioner, who in 2018 approved the aforementioned agreement, signed by both the UK and Rwanda, which called, among other things, for “the registration and submission of documents to those seeking protection as refugees, in particular in the first country in which they seek asylum and as soon as possible.”

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A paradise for refugees?: International human rights organizations deny it

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame – who has governed his party since 2000 and who participated in the last elections of 2017 I collected 99% of the votes– emphasized in a Press Conference that refugees who arrive in the country will “live better” than they did in their countries of origin. Kagame also noted that Rwanda will find a way for those refugees who want to stay in the country to do so legally, and if they don’t want to, they can return to their places of origin or move to other regions that accept them. .

However, international human rights associations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch consider that the situation in Rwanda Not suitable for sending refugees.

AI I denounced Several active YouTube bloggers and commentators have also been “arrested” for making statements against the government, a practice the organization criticizes with academics, journalists and members of the opposition. “The arbitrary arrestIll-treatment and torture in official and unofficial detention centers are common, and fair trial standards are routinely violated in many cases.” match Human Rights Watch.

Following the announcement of the agreement between the United Kingdom and Rwanda, the Commission also released a file Release who expressedStrong opposition and concernThe UN agency urged the UK to “refrain” from implementing the Convention, seeing that Rwanda does not adhere to “adequate guarantees and standards” of security and respect for human rights. Exactly in front of UNHCR offices in the Rwandan capital, there was a demonstration of this lack of guarantees: in In 2018, at least 11 Congolese refugees Died at the hands of the police When they protested about the lack of food.

Opposition leader Victoire Ingabier – who was released from prison in 2018 after spending eight years in prison – highlight On several occasions Rwanda Under a “dictatorship”.

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UK-Rwanda deal Reverse International law

The Memorandum of Understanding (Memorandum of Understanding) signed between the Government of Rwanda and the United Kingdom in April establishes a Asylum Cooperation Agreement Between the two countries. This plan is part of the asylum system reforms and Nationality and Borders Law British and located within Agreement on Economic Development and Migration between the United Kingdom and Rwanda.

This latest agreement sets out a quota that the UK will pay to Rwanda annually to receive deported refugees, up to 120 million pounds (about 144 million euros).

Based on the agreement, It will “transfer” asylum seekers to Rwanda “whose applications have not been considered by the United Kingdom”. According to the text, the African country will be responsible for “processing their requests and accepting or expelling (as appropriate) people once their requests have been decided.” In other words, this means that anyone who applies for asylum in the UK on an “irregular” basis can be “transferred” to Rwanda while their application is being processed by the UK authorities.

ACNUR points out to Newtral.es that this type of agreement “They are simply changing the asylum responsibilities.” and evasion of international obligations. It must be remembered that the United Kingdom is one of the signatory countries to Geneva Convention 1951, one of the main references in terms of refugee asylum.

Article 33 of this text states that it is prohibited to “expel or return” a refugee To a country where his life or freedom is in danger‘, so now it remains to be seen whether Rwanda (or not) should be considered a country where these people can start a safe life, but also who is responsible for making that decision.

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