Suella Braverman jokes she could use interior designer behind Rwanda migrant homes
Suella Braverman was so impressed by the decor of the Rwanda homes being built for migrants deported from the UK that she joked she wanted the name of their interior designer.
On a two day visit to Rwanda, the Home Secretary was shown round the first houses already built for the migrants on an estate in Kigali that is designed to house a mix of asylum seekers flown from the UK and local Rwandans.
The two and three bedroomed homes - costing between £14,000 and more than £30,000 - are part of a 2,500-house “town” costing nearly £100 million for 15,000 people, of which a portion are to be earmarked for migrants deported from the UK.
Britain and Rwanda have claimed the African state has capacity to take tens of thousands of migrants. Even though the deportation plan has been suspended pending the outcome of legal action in the UK appeal court, ministers remain confident it will go ahead.
The houses provide families with off street car parking, fibre optic broadband, front and back gardens, an eco-design that also combats humidity and gases rising from the ground and decor that would not look out of place in a British town house.
Viewing the wooden panelled interior of one two-bedroomed home with its beige velvet sofa and floral pink scatter cushions, Mrs Braverman said: “These houses are really beautiful, high quality, welcoming and I quite like your interior designer. I need some advice myself.”
She added: “I am really impressed by the quality of the housing you are creating…what is impressive is the pace of your roll out. It takes two weeks to construct a house with a team of 10 people.”
The houses on the Riverside estate in Kigali will accommodate asylum seekers deported from the UK three to six months after arrival in Rwanda and once they have been processed at hostels and hotels.
The joint agreement under which the UK has paid Rwanda £140 million to take migrants removed from the UK is being used to help cover the costs of land purchase, infrastructure such as roads and services. The estate is due to be completed by June 2023.
Some £20 million of the £140 million has been earmarked to pay for subsistence and job training for the migrants. Once they achieve refugee status, they could be handed the title deed of the house or live in them rent free until they get a job.
A private developer, Hassan Hassan, a British national who owns property company ADHI ltd, has won the contract to build the houses in partnership with the Rwandan Government.
He said a quarter had already been sold off to private buyers but he was in discussions with the Rwanda Government about “holding back” a portion for migrants, if and when the deportation scheme became operational.
“I am a developer. It was easier to come and develop here. This is a good place to do business,” he said.
The houses are designed to be affordable with no-one earning more than £1,000 a month allowed to buy them.This will restrict them to buyers such as teachers, health service staff and civil servants.
Speaking on the eve of the visit, Mrs Braverman said the suggestion that Rwanda could only take 200 migrants was a “completely false narrative peddled by critics who want to scrap the deal.” This referred only to the initial reception accommodation which could also be scaled up.
“Rwanda has the capacity to accommodate tens of thousands of people, and can quickly stand this up once flights begin,” she said.