Rwanda rejects UK reimbursement request for $300 million asylum deal

The Rwandan government announced it will not reimburse over $300 million received from the United Kingdom since 2022 under a deal to deport asylum seekers deemed to have arrived illegally in the UK to Rwanda.

This decision comes after newly-elected British Prime Minister Keir Starmer declared his intention to scrap the controversial agreement.

A Rwandan government spokesperson, Alain Mukuralinda, clarified on Tuesday that the agreement did not include any provision for reimbursement. “Within the agreement there was no clause regarding reimbursement… it never stated that the money would be refunded,”

Mukuralinda stated in a video posted by the state-owned Rwanda Broadcasting Agency. He added, “We had an agreement. Both parties signed, it became an international agreement, we start implementing it, then after that you want out… best of luck.”

The UK has provided Rwanda with £240 million (around $307 million) so far as part of the deal, according to a fact sheet published by the British government in April this year.

During his first press conference as prime minister on Saturday, Starmer labeled the deal a “gimmick” and stated he was “not prepared to continue” with it, denying that the bill served as a deterrent.

The plan, initially announced in April 2022 by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, faced significant political and legal challenges on human rights grounds.

Despite the bill being passed in April this year, former UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended it as a measure to “deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit them.”

The plan was condemned by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who said it aimed to “shift responsibility for refugee protection, undermining international cooperation and setting a worrying global precedent.”

Amnesty International UK also criticized the plan, calling it “a stain on this country’s moral reputation” that “takes a hatchet to international legal protections for some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

Source: CNN

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