Rwanda says it can only bring in 200 migrants from UK under controversial deportation scheme

·2-min read
Britain stands to lose £120m it has paid to Rwanda if the plan to deport migrants is ruled unlawful by the courts (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
Britain stands to lose £120m it has paid to Rwanda if the plan to deport migrants is ruled unlawful by the courts (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

The Rwandan government has defended the controversial asylum agreement but said it only has the capacity to hold 200 migrants currently.

The African nation had originally agreed to take up to 1,000 migrants from the UK in a trial deal worth £120million.

The government has now said one hotel, Hope Hostel in Kigali, is prepared to receive migrants but has a maximum capacity of 200 people.

Yolande Makolo, a spokeswoman for the Rwandan government said: “We’re looking into infrastructure development, we have identified other accommodation developments.”

Ms Makolo did add, however, that the government has the ability to “scale up very quickly”, in order to increase the numbers it can receive.

She also condemned critics and those who implied that Africa is “full of disease and no opportunities”.

“We are still seen as a problematic place, a place of problems. This is not something that we want.

“Africa is also a source of solutions. This is an innovative solution to a global problem,” Ms Makolo said.

“The UNHCR has always praised Rwanda’s open-door policy.

“In the last couple of years, both the head of the UNHCR and his deputy have visited Rwanda, and they have been very effusive about what a welcoming country Rwanda is.

“So it’s a bit of a surprise that they come up at this point to try and bring unjustified challenges to this partnership instead of working with us to iron out whatever they think is not working correctly.

“We would like to see them play a more positive role.”

Plans are in place to house 100 migrants in the £58 a night Hope Hostel - which would cost the British taxpayer up to £5,800 a night - while several other locations are being looked at for another 100 migrants.

In conclusion, Ms Makolo said the country could provide a safe home to migrants and that it wanted to retain “young African talent” as well as help people from all over the world.

A spokesman for the UNHCR said: “The UNHCR is not a direct party to any of the actions currently before the courts regarding the UK’s intention to forcibly transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda.

“UNHCR has been granted permission by the UK High Court to intervene in... our capacity as the UN refugee agency and a friend of the court.

“Where appropriate, UNHCR intervenes in a select number of asylum cases and raises issues of concern with our counterparts in the UK Government.”

The first deportation flight was grounded in June after a series of legal challenges, and another attempt is yet to be scheduled.

Last month, Downing Street conceded that some cash had been paid but refused to say how much or when this had happened, saying the information was “confidential”.

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