The Home Secretary Suella Braverman is “encouraged” after “constructive” talks between the government and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over possible reforms to the injunction that saw migrant flights to Rwanda cancelled.
The first flight to Rwanda as part of the government’s new asylum resettlement scheme was halted in June 2022 after a last minute intervention from the ECHR saw legal challenges in the UK courts. Seven people had been due on the Boeing 767 flight going to Rwanda.
Braverman, who was in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, told reporters it was a “blessing” for those entering the UK illegally to be relocated there. So, where is Rwanda, what is it like and why is the UK planning to send asylum seekers there? Here’s everything you need to know.
Where is Rwanda?
Rwanda is located in central Africa and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A landlocked country, it is one of the smallest in Africa at 10,169 square miles. The country’s current president is Paul Kagame, who is a member of the RPF and has been in power since 2000.
Rwanda made headlines around the world in the 1990s, due to the Rwandan genocide. It began in 1994 and saw members of the Hutu community attack the Tutsi community. Between April and July 1994, more than 800,000 people lost their lives to the conflict. The genocide ended when the Tutsi-dominated movement, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), captured Kigali and overthrew the Hutu government.
What is the population of Rwanda?
Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa, it is around the same size as Wales, with a population of 12.6 million, making it the fifth most densely populated country in the world. The capital of Kigali is home to around one million people.
What is the weather like in Rwanda?
Rwanda enjoys a tropical highland climate, with average daily temperatures in the capital city of Kigali between 12 and 27 °C. The country has four seasons, but they differ greatly to the UK. Rwanda’s four seasons are made up of:
- Long rainy season: March - May
- Long dry season: June - September
- Short rainy season: October - November
- Short dry season: December- February
Why is the UK sending asylum seekers to Rwanda?
The government announced the plans in April 2022, which proposed asylum seekers deemed to have entered the UK illegally will be resettled in Rwanda to claim asylum there. However, the flight scheduled on 14 June was cancelled after a last minute intervention from the ECHR saw legal challenges in the UK courts.
The Home Secretary Braverman travelled to Rwanda on 19 March, where she visited accommodations that could become home to those relocated under the scheme.
Reported by PA Media, speaking about migrants being relocated to Rwanda Braverman said: “I would call it a blessing.” She continued: “We’ve seen refugees from several countries here who are enormously grateful for the sanctuary Rwanda has provided, the educational opportunities, security, a home, opportunities for the future. Coming to Rwanda, being resettled in Rwanda will provide these vulnerable people with a prosperous future.”
Her visit has been met with criticism. Speaking to Sky News, Labour MP for Wigan, Lisa Nandy called the policy “unethical, unworkable”. She said: “Everyone accepts this is a major problem, a crisis. We’ve got record numbers of boats arriving on the coast, criminal gangs profiting and an asylum system in chaos.”
She continued: “But the question is, what is the Government actually doing? So far they’ve done several PR opportunities and photo ops. We’ve had £140 million of cheques written to Rwanda in order to implement a scheme that hasn’t removed a single person. This is just more stunts from this Government.”