Rwanda migrant deal now covers non-asylum seekers

Monday April 17 2023
Rwanda asylum seekrs

Asylum seekers from Libya arriving in Rwanda in December 2020. An addendum to the memorandum of understanding between UK and Rwanda will now see the transfer of people who have not claimed asylum in the UK to Kigali. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


An addendum to the memorandum of understanding between the United Kingdom (UK) and Rwanda, signed last month when UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Kigali, will now see the transfer of people who have not claimed asylum in the UK to Kigali.

The initial memorandum signed on April 13, 2022 was limited to illegal migrants arriving on small boats, seeking asylum in the UK.

But the new deal creates "a mechanism for the relocation to Rwanda of individuals arriving illegally in the UK, who do not make an asylum claim or raise a formal application for protection in the UK".

Kigali has the option to deport to their home country a relocated individual who does not raise an asylum or protection claim.

Regularise status

“For those relocated individuals who have no basis upon which to remain in Rwanda, only remove such a person to a country in which they have a right to reside. If there is no prospect of such removal occurring for any reason Rwanda will regularise that person’s immigration status,” reads Article 5.3.4 of the addendum.


The addendum also includes assurances as to the treatment of relocated individuals, monitored by the Joint Committee and the Monitoring Committee, established under the agreement.

Determined Kigali

Meanwhile, Rwanda is pulling out all the stops preparing for the arrival of the immigrants from the UK even as the controversial migration deal remains mired in legal challenges.

Rwandan Court of Appeal decision is expected this month after charity Asylum Aid opposed a high court verdict that the policy is lawful and does not violate the refugee convention or human rights laws.

Read: UK court allows migrants appeal

Despite courting controversy over the deal, Kigali, which received an advance payment of £140 million ($175 million) in development funding for the processing and integration costs, says it is determined to make the pilot scheme work.

Fully integrated

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister said asylum seekers will be fully integrated into the society to become self-sufficient.

“We hope that other countries will be ready to join once they see the solution is working,” Biruta said.

“If we are successful, we envisage delivering on the substance as quickly as possible,” said Braverman.