refugees in Rwanda warn of difficulties faced by arrivals from UK | Economic news

By IGNATIUS SSUUNA, Associated Press

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — As Britain plans to send its first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda on Tuesday amid protests and legal challenges, some who have come to the East African country Is under previous arrangements told The Associated Press that newcomers can expect a tough time ahead.

“Sometimes I play football and in the evening I drink because I have nothing to do,” said Faisal, a 20-year-old Ethiopian who was transferred to Rwanda from Libya in 2019 in the first group of resettled refugees. under an agreement with the United Nations. “I pray to God daily for me to leave this place.”

Giving only his first name for fear of reprisals, he remains in the center of Gashora built to house the refugees who had languished in Libya while trying to reach Europe. Gashora is called a transit center, but some like Faisal see nowhere to go.

A British court on Monday refused to stop the government from deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda despite arguments from rights advocates that the planned flights would undermine the ‘basic dignity’ of people fleeing war and oppression. The British government’s deportation plan has been widely criticised, including by Prince Charles, according to newspaper reports.

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Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and still one of the least developed despite its emphasis on modernization since the 1994 genocide. It is expected that migrants seeking better lives in Britain find fewer chances to pursue their dreams here, even though Rwandan officials describe their country as having a proud history of welcoming those in need.

Urubel Tesfaye, a 22-year-old Ethiopian who is happy to have found a part-time job in a bakery in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, is one of those who have found a foothold. But his friends are talking about moving to Canada or the Netherlands.

“They have a disease in their head and cannot settle here,” he said of their determination to move.

Hundreds of people previously sent to Rwanda under the UN deal have since been resettled in third countries, according to the UN refugee agency. But those sent to Rwanda under the deal with Britain must seek asylum in Rwanda.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame told diplomats in Kigali after signing the deal with Britain in April that his country and the UK were not engaged in buying and selling people, but were trying rather to solve a global migration problem.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said at the time that “access to the UK’s asylum system must be based on need, not the ability to pay smugglers”.

Rwandan authorities have said the deal will initially last for five years, with the British government paying 120 million pounds ($158 million) up front to pay for accommodation and integration for asylum seekers. Britain is expected to pay more as Rwanda accepts more migrants, although the exact number of people the UK is expected to send is not known.

Those expected to arrive under Rwanda’s new deal with Britain will be housed in shelters around Kigali with features such as private rooms, TVs and a swimming pool. At one, the Hope Hostel, a security guard patrols outside and clocks in the lobby show London and Paris times.

“It’s not a prison,” said director Bakinahe Ismail.

But the Gashora center for oldcomers in a rural area outside the capital offers more basic shared living facilities instead.

“The UK government, my message to them is that human beings are human beings. You can’t tell them ‘Go and stay here’ or ‘Go and do this or that’. No. Because if they feel better in the UK, then the UK is better for them,” said Peter Nyuoni, a refugee from South Sudan.

“There is nothing for me that wants to stay here,” he said.

Even those who have come directly to Rwanda to escape internal turmoil say the country, while peaceful, is not easy.

“When you’re not employed, you can’t survive here,” said Kelly Nimubona, a refugee from neighboring Burundi. “We cannot afford to eat twice a day. There is no chance of finding a job or selling on the street. But he described Rwanda as an oasis of order in the region.

Sensitivities around the arrival of the first asylum seekers from Britain are so high that Rwandan authorities are blocking the media from interviewing the new arrivals.

“Maybe later when they are installed,” said Claude Twishime, spokesman for the Ministry of Emergency Management, which will take care of their care.

Rwanda already hosts more than 130,000 refugees and migrants from other African nations and countries like Pakistan, the government said.

The prospect of welcoming more is criticized by some in Rwanda. Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire said the government should instead focus on internal political and social issues that are pushing some Rwandans to become refugees elsewhere.

For years, human rights groups have accused the Rwandan government of cracking down on perceived dissent and maintaining tight control over many aspects of life, from jailing critics to ostracizing the sans. -shelter from the streets of Kigali. The government denies it.

Such tensions are expected to be just below the surface this month when Rwanda hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit. Britain will play a central role there as it continues to face questions over its deal with Rwanda.

Some Rwandans said the local economy was not ready to handle people arriving from Britain.

“Look, a lot of people are unemployed here,” said Rashid Rutazigwa, a mechanic in the capital. He said he didn’t see many opportunities, even for people with skills and training.

“But if the government promises to pay salaries (to migrants), then everything will be fine,” he added.

Follow AP’s coverage of migration issues at

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