UK's Rwanda deportation plan: what happens when migrants reach Kigali?

Seven asylum seekers were given a reprieve when a court halted the first UK-Rwanda deportation flight

A man stands on the steps of the grounded Rwanda deportation flight EC-LZO Boeing 767 at Boscombe Down Air Base, in  Wiltshire, England. The flight taking asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda was grounded at the last minute after intervention of the European Court of Human Rights. Getty Images
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The UK government has insisted it intends to press on with its plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, despite the setback of a European court's intervention which stopped the first flight taking off.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the preparations for the next flight will begin immediately and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had said if the migrants were not on the first flight, "they would be on the next flight".

"The really important thing is we establish the principle and we start to break the business model of these appalling people traffickers who are trading in misery," Ms Patel said.

It is too soon to know how many asylum seekers the UK government would attempt to place on another flight. It informed 130 people they were on the list for the first flight, but only seven were actually expected to be on Tuesday's flight, after a string of legal challenges.

Where will they go?

When, or if, the first deportation flight takes place, the first migrants to arrive in Rwanda under the UK’s radical new deal to curb Channel crossings will be offered the chance to rebuild their lives in the east African nation.

The group will most likely be flown into a private terminal at Kigali’s international airport before being taken straight to accommodation at Hope Hostel — where they will be given a chance to rest, eat and settle in, before being processed. They will be tested for Covid-19.

The Rwandan government has said this is the only centre being used for initial accommodation under the plan so far.

Spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said they are in discussions with five or six more establishments in the capital city including the Desir Hotel, also known as Rouge by Desir, and the Hallmark Residences for accommodation use in future.

The government aspires to provide “clean, modern accommodation” with basic amenities and a safe space, she added.

Hope Hostel can sleep 100 people, although plans for expansion could see another accommodation block built on the site.

A large tent has been erected next door and is understood to be where the processing will take place.

Rwanda prepares for refugees

Rwanda prepares for refugees

How long would they stay?

Within 24 hours of arrival, migrants will be granted a three-month residency in Rwanda while their immigration status is decided.

The immigration department will submit a file for the consideration committee within 15 days, after which a decision is expected to be reached within a further 45 days, said Doris Uwicyeza, chief technical adviser to the Rwandan Ministry of Justice.

The new arrivals will not need to submit an asylum claim, but those who do will have this considered in the first instance.

Anyone without an asylum claim, or one that is rejected, will then be considered under wider immigration rules with a view to provide a right to residency and to work.

The government said it had boosted staff numbers and resources to make the process as efficient as possible and hopes to consider claims within three months.

What will life be like?

While their immigration status is determined, migrants will take part in an “orientation” programme to help them adjust to their new life in Rwanda — if they choose to stay — with information about the country such as the weather and geography as well as a tour of the area.

Food and accommodation will be provided and paid for, with sports, games and other activities laid on.

Migrants will also be given a monthly allowance of 100,000RWF a month (roughly £90) to help pay for essentials. Meanwhile they will be given access to language classes and translation services as well as legal advice.

It is unclear whether they will be subject to a curfew or face any other restrictions if they leave the premises or what would happen if they are considered to have left the accommodation altogether, with officials saying the details are still being finalised.

But Ms Makolo said the government would not want them to become “lost, hungry or destitute” and that social workers and counsellors would be made available for support.

Anyone appealing against a decision will be given 30 days to do so and can seek their own legal advice — from a list of lawyers accredited by the Rwandan Bar Association — which they will have to pay for if it is not offered pro-bono, the government representatives said.

If the appeal reaches the country’s high court, the government will provide legal representation free of charge.

The support package — including healthcare, food and accommodation as well as the monthly allowance — will continue to be provided until the person in question is able to support themselves.

Later on, they will be moved to other accommodation in the community.

UK's first Rwanda deportation flight cancelled

UK's first Rwanda deportation flight cancelled

Can they leave Rwanda?

For those who decide to leave the country, a flight back to their home country or elsewhere where they have a right to residency will be arranged for them by the government.

Ms Uwicyeza said the government recognised the important role refugees and migrants play in the “cultural fabric of society”, adding: “We do not want to bring people here to put them in a situation of illegality. We want people to be legal residents of Rwanda.”

The government said they are anticipating families may arrive in Rwanda under the deal in future and are making plans for suitable accommodation and arrangements, with education offered to children. But typically, they are expecting to mostly receive migrants who are single men.

Responding to concerns that have been raised by some about the risk of malaria in the country, Ms Makolo said the country had a “strong” anti-malaria programme and numbers had fallen “dramatically” in recent years but nets, medication and other preventive measures are taken.

Ms Makolo added: “Rwanda has a record of caring for refugees and welcoming migrants and will be able to provide not just the safe haven these people are looking for, but the opportunity to build new lives here and develop alongside Rwandans.”

Discussions are continuing being the Rwandan and Danish governments over the prospect of establishing a similar arrangement.

Updated: June 15, 2022, 8:39 AM