politics

UK has given Rwanda entire £120m for asylum plan – and it’s already being spent


Rwanda’s government tonight did not rule out keeping the money, even if a High Court hearing next month blocks the entire policy

Britain has given Rwanda the entire £120million payment for Priti Patel’s asylum schem e – and some of it has already been spent.

The Rwandan government confirmed the up-front sum for five years’ work has been handed over in full, and is starting to be paid out.

That is despite no migrants arriving yet after a European Court of Human Rights ruling grounded the first flight.

Rwanda’s government tonight did not rule out keeping the money, even if a High Court hearing next month blocks the entire policy.

Spokesperson Yolande Makolo said the £120m “was intended to prepare all the accommodations and all the other institutions.”







Boris Johnson attends a lesson during a visit to the GS Kacyiru II school on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
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Asked if the money would be repaid if the policy was ruled unlawful, she told the Mirror: “I’m not going to speculate about that”.

The £120m had always been described as an up-front payment – but No10 today continued to insist the details were “confidential”.

It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to take tea with Prince Charles tomorrow at a Commonwealth summit in the Rwandan capital.

He said he would urge the future King – who reportedly branded the plan “appalling” – to keep an “open mind” but No10 later suggested it would not come up at all.

Mr Johnson today met Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame at the summit – but failed to raise human rights concerns.

That is despite the UK government saying last year it was concerned about “restrictions to civil and political rights and media freedom” in Rwanda, and “allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture.”

Human Rights Watch has also warned Rwanda is not “a safe third country to send asylum seekers to”.

But government spokesperson Ms Makolo hit back: “They’re not only outdated but they’re unwarranted accusations.

“There’s nothing wrong with human rights in Rwanda. Human rights are a work in progress in every country.”







Yolande Makolo, spokeswoman for the Rwandan government leads a press conference in Kigali
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She accused groups “with agendas” of pushing claims of human rights abuses adding: “We’re not where we were in 1994, 2004, even 2014”. President Paul Kagame has ruled for 22 years and won with nearly 99% of the vote in 2017.

She added: “An organisation that constantly keeps hammering at us obviously doesn’t make any sense to me and to us.”

Asked for her comment on Prince Charles’ reported criticism of the policy, Ms Makolo said: “It’s not for me to say.

“What we do know is that we’re offering people a home, we want people to feel safe and welcome here.

“We think that’s a good thing to do.

“And with the partnership we have with the UK and investment the UK is making into this partnership, we feel we can make it happen and give a decent life and opportunities to the migrants and it will also benefit Rwandans.”

Asked if there were outdated views in Britain about Rwanda she replied: “I don’t think it’s just Britain.

“I think there’s a lot of misconception about what life is like in Rwanda and Africa in general, for many reasons.”

She added: “People should come and see for themselves and not have the wrong idea.”

She insisted a failed scheme for Israel to send migrants to Rwanda was “not similar, it was very very different”.

Boris Johnson today visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

He paused at the flame of remembrance marking 28 years since Hutu extremists killed around 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus in 100 days of bloodshed in 1994.

He wrote in the visitor book: “It has been utterly shocking to see these images, and so many physical memorials, of the appalling and inexplicable genocide against the Tutsis.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that human hearts never again are allowed to breed such hatred.”

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