UK and Rwanda sign agreement to relocate asylum seekers

(CNN) – On Thursday, the governments of the United Kingdom and Rwanda announced the signing of an agreement to address illegal immigration, which includes the resettlement of asylum seekers in the United Kingdom in the African country.

“The UK and Rwanda today signed a new joint migration and economic development partnership to end this deadly trade and human smuggling,” British Home Secretary Priti Patel said at a press conference, jointly with Rwanda’s foreign minister.

Those who have been relocated will “get support that includes up to five years of training, integration, housing and medical care, so that they can resettle and thrive,” Patel said, adding that “this agreement fully complies with all international and national laws.”

In response to a reporter’s question about resettlement criteria, Patel said: “We are very clear that all people who enter the UK illegally will be considered for resettlement and will be transferred to Rwanda, and I will not disclose specific criteria for a number of reasons.”

Throughout the conference, the Home Secretary insisted that the aim of the deal was to improve the UK’s asylum system, which has faced “a combination of genuine humanitarian crises and vicious human traffickers who profit from exploiting the system for their own benefit”.

The agreement is a “partnership between two countries” rather than a “one-sided deal,” according to Patel, “and as part of this ground-breaking deal, the UK is making a significant investment in Rwanda’s economic development.”

During the joint press conference, Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Perrota said his country was pleased to work with the UK on this partnership and was ready to “invest in personal development, education and job creation”.

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“Those who do not wish to make Rwanda their new home will find it easier for them to return to their countries of origin or settle in other host countries,” he added.

Asked whether Rwanda has the infrastructure to absorb the influx, Birota said the country has the capacity to receive migrants and will invest in new infrastructure to educate and accommodate migrants with UK support.

Perrotta made it clear that the program will only be for UK asylum seekers who are in the UK. Rwanda will consider each immigrant’s criminal history to determine eligibility to enter the country and “prefers not to take in people from immediate neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania.”

“There will be a system to screen those who want to come here or those who have been identified as people who could benefit from this programme,” he added.

– With the report of Sarah Diab in London and Bethlehem Felika in Nairobi.

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