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African state reacts to UK’s intent to end migrant deal

Rwanda has taken note of the British plan to terminate the agreement, a government spokesperson has said

Rwanda has said it has fully honored its commitments under a migrant resettlement agreement with the UK, following British Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s announcement that the arrangement will be terminated.

In a statement on Monday, a spokesperson in Kigali said the African country had “taken note” of London’s plans to end the multimillion-pound deal. 

“Rwanda takes note of the intention of the UK Government to terminate the Migration and Economic Development Partnership Agreement, as provided for under the terms of the Treaty passed by both our Parliaments,” the office of government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said.

“This partnership was initiated by the Government of the UK in order to address the crisis of irregular migration affecting the UK – a problem of the UK, not Rwanda,” the statement clarified. “Rwanda has fully upheld its side of the agreement, including with regard to finances, and remains committed to finding solutions to the global migration crisis, including providing safety, dignity and opportunity to refugees and migrants who come to our country.”

Rwanda’s response came on the heels of the arrival of the first migrants to cross the English Channel since the UK Labour Party’s general election victory.

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Starmer replaced Rishi Sunak as the head of the UK government on Friday after the Labour Party he leads claimed a landslide victory in a general election, securing at least 412 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons. 

On Saturday, Starmer said in his first news conference that “the Rwanda scheme was dead and buried before it started… it’s never acted as a deterrent. Almost the opposite.”

According to the Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP), both governments are free to terminate the agreement, but it will only officially end three months after the other party is notified in writing. The deal had been set to last until April 13, 2027.

The initiative, drawn up by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, was first stymied by the European Court of Human Rights, which halted the first deportation flight two months later. Last November, the UK Supreme Court also ruled the plan illegal, declaring Rwanda an unsafe third country for refugee relocation.

Sunak’s Conservative government, which committed to “stopping the boats” when it took office in 2022, had insisted the Rwanda agreement would address an influx of illegal immigrants coming across the English Channel. According to recent government figures, more than 7,000 people arrived on ‘small boats’ in the first four months of this year, an increase of more than 1,400 since the same January-April period in 2023.

July 09, 2024 at 03:54PM
RT

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