Home » Expulsion of migrants from the United Kingdom, a winning bet for Rwanda

Expulsion of migrants from the United Kingdom, a winning bet for Rwanda

“Although we are a small country, we feel solidarity with
women and men in distress. We know what it’s like to have been abandoned by the
world. The arrival of these migrants expelled by London does not pose a problem
for us,” says Venuste, a survivor of the 1994 Tutsi genocide who lives in
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Like him, Rwandans who speak of the reception of
asylum seekers expelled by the British emphasize their tragic history and their
sense of hospitality.

“London is the one deciding to relocate these asylum
seekers. We have accepted to welcome them. Our society, evidently, demonstrates
much more tolerance and generosity than most Western countries,” adds
Pierre, a Rwandan in his 50s, with a hint of sarcasm.

“Most Rwandans have experienced being refugees at some
point in their lives. We know what it means, and we do it for the right
reasons,” explained Rwandan President Paul Kagame on June 21, 2022,
shortly after concluding an agreement with London over the return of migrants.

“We are not beginners on the subject,” he said, recalling Rwanda’s
reception of over 100,000 refugees from the region and a thousand Libyans.
“The agreement with the United Kingdom is linked to this experience. There
is no doubt that the asylum system is flawed and needs innovative solutions,
and we are happy to contribute to these solutions.”

An inexpensive workforce

While Rwanda displays altruistic reasons to explain its
agreement, it also expects to derive numerous benefits. Financially, London has
already reportedly paid almost $300 million to Rwanda. “At this point, no migrant has been deported by
London, which is already a clever move,” notes Thierry Vircoulon, a
researcher from the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri).

financial windfall will be supplemented, once the agreement becomes
operational, by a social gain: the migrants sent to Rwanda will represent an
inexpensive workforce unmarked by the former ethnic categorization that the
country has been trying to abolish for over two decades. “We are building
a society that has turned its back on the Hutu-Tutsi distinction. By welcoming
these migrants whom no one wants in Europe, we are also pursuing this essential
goal,” says one Rwandan.

Another expected gain is tighter diplomatic links
with London. Through this agreement, Rwanda becomes a privileged partner of the
British and can expect multiple benefits – such as political support at a time
when Kigali is accused by the United Nations, the United States, France, and
several other countries of supporting the M23 rebel military group in eastern
DR Congo.

Avoiding migrant ghettos

Rwanda already claims to be ready to receive the expelled migrants. Upon arrival, they will be accommodated in one of three lodgings
dedicated to the operation, such as the Hope Hostel in Kigali, capable of
accommodating around 100 people. The government has also built a housing
estate for the migrants.

However, according to an investigation by The Times published on April 9, on the
occasion of the Rwandan president’s visit to London, of the 163 accommodations
planned to house these migrants, 70% would have already been sold to Rwandans.
According to the Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo, authorities
actually wish to avoid creating migrant ghettos by mixing them with the

In any case, the governments of both countries are
determined to initiate this transfer of migrants as soon as possible. “We
are pleased that the bill has been adopted by the British Parliament,”
said Makolo April 23, adding that the authorities in
Kigali are “eager to welcome the relocated individuals to Rwanda.”