Hotels and guest houses in Rwanda are being prepared to accommodate asylum-seekers illegally arriving into the UK.
It’s part of a controversial deal, signed by Rwanda and Britain, to deport illegal migrants to Kigali.
The plan aims to discourage desperate migrants from attempting to cross the English Channel by flying them some 6,400 kilometres to Rwanda where they are expected to stay for good.
Both Britain and Rwanda have faced criticism at home and with at least two UN agencies speaking out about the controversial plan.
Migrants arriving illegally in the UK – often in small boats crossing the English Channel – will have their asylum claims processed in Kigali.
“We will welcome these migrants with open arms, we will try to make them forget the problems that made them leave their country,” said Denis Bizimungu, general manager of the Desire Resort Hotel which is being refurbished and renovated to accommodate the migrants.
“We want to make sure that the idea of crossing the Mediterranean never comes back to their hearts, we want their hearts to be filled with joy in this country,” he added.
UN officials and other critics – particularly in the two countries – have raised human rights concerns and warned that such a move goes against the Refugee Convention.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel said Britain had seen over 20,000 people enter illegally over the last year and insisted that her Conservative government – along with Rwanda – was “finding new, innovative solutions to global problems” amid a crisis of illegal immigration.
She insists the plan is about saving the lives of people taken by smugglers on often-treacherous journeys to try to reach Britain.
According to Rwanda’s deputy government spokesperson Alain Mukurarinda “the contract between Rwanda and the United Kingdom is clear.”
“All the expenses are taken care of by the British government,” he said.