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Rwanda UPSC NOTE

 Deportation to Rwanda

  • Last week, the British authorities deported an asylum seeker to Rwanda under a voluntary returns scheme and started detaining other migrants in the country in preparation for deportations to Rwanda by July as part of an immigration law passed by the U.K. Parliament. 

  • In April 2022, the U.K. struck a deal with Rwanda to address issues related to undocumented migration. 

  • However, the relocation policy was declared unlawful by the U.K. Supreme Court

  • In response, the Conservative government finalised a new agreement with Rwanda to ensure additional safeguards

  • The new legislation allows authorities to remove asylum seekers who have made “unauthorised journeys” since January 1, 2022, to Rwanda for processing of asylum claims.


How was the deportation facilitated?

  • The Voluntary Returns Scheme (VRS), under which the migrant was sent to Rwanda by the U.K. government, is not an entirely new programme. 

  • The plan was introduced by the Home Office in 1999 and co-funded by the European Refugee Fund. 

  • In 2002, a reintegration assistance programme was added to the scheme to help repatriated migrants meet their basic needs after arrival, such as finding a place to live, finding a job etc. 

  • The current plan is an extension of the existing VRS.

  • Under the new programme, the British government offers financial assistance to migrants and failed asylum seekers who opt to depart to a “safe third country,” or a country they are “admissible to.” 

  • A person is eligible to apply for the service if they have been in the U.K. illegally or have overstayed their visa; withdrawn, or want to withdraw their application to stay in the country; claimed asylum; or have an official letter confirming that they are a victim of modern slavery

  • A one-off payment is available to those departing to a country recognised as developing by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

  • The OECD categorises Rwanda as a low-income developing country

  • Over the years, several individuals have been sent to Rwanda from the U.K. under the VRS

  • As per the latest data, 19,253 individuals were voluntarily returned from Britain under the returns scheme last year.

Is Rwanda safe for refugees?

  • The landlocked country of Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with a population of over 13 million people. 

  • While the country has recorded significant progress in recent years in developing its economy, it continues to feature among the least developed nations in the world.

  • Additionally, the government in Rwanda has been accused of stifling dissent, keeping a tight control on media and opposition, and supporting rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture in official and unofficial detention facilities were commonplace, and fair trial standards were routinely flouted in cases deemed sensitive,” the Human Rights Watch noted. 

  • The agency has also highlighted how Rwanda’s government has continued to exert pressure on refugees. Refugees who are known critics of the government have been threatened and harassed.

  • In Africa, the Human Rights Watch has documented Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers being forcibly disappeared and returned to Rwanda, or killed

  • Around 90% of these refugees live in five camps across the country, while around 80% of the refugee population is highly vulnerable and fully relies on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

  • It is in such a context that Rwanda has now agreed to open its borders to over 50,000 more refugees in the next few years.

What’s in it for Rwanda?

  • As part of the asylum plan, the U.K. government will give development funding to the country and has promised to meet processing and integration costs for each relocated person

  • Britain has already paid Rwanda 220 million pounds, and the total cost is estimated to go up to 600 million pounds for 300 refugees

  • Despite criticism from several quarters, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame maintains that its decision to be part of the U.K.’s asylum plan is not economically driven or about “trading people,” but to offer them a better chance at life.

Rwanda

  • Rwanda, is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley of Central Africa, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa converge. 

  • Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

  • It is highly elevated, giving it the soubriquet "land of a thousand hills" with its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the southeast

  • It is the most densely populated mainland African country

  • Its capital and largest city is Kigali.

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