IGICUMBI Calls for Retraction and Apology from UK Secretary of State Over Misleading Statements on Rwanda

On May 2, 2024, the IGICUMBI – Association des rescapés du génocide contre les Tutsis, issued an open letter to Mr. James Cleverly, the United Kingdom Secretary of State, expressing significant concerns regarding his recent remarks about Rwanda and the implications of the newly passed Safety of Rwanda Asylum and Immigration Act 2024.

IGICUMBI, an organization founded to advocate for justice and uphold the truth surrounding the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, criticized the Secretary’s statement made during his visit to Italy. Mr. Cleverly had remarked, “Rwanda is slightly underpopulated because of the genocide it suffered 20 years ago, and its economy will benefit from the migrants that are due to be sent from Britain.” This statement was promptly refuted by IGICUMBI, highlighting several inaccuracies.

Firstly, IGICUMBI corrected the timeframe of the genocide, clarifying it occurred 30 years ago, not 20, as Mr. Cleverly claimed. They also contested his characterization of Rwanda’s population status. Contrary to his statements, Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with a current population density of 584 people per square kilometer, according to recent data from Statista.

Additionally, the association criticized the British government’s rationale that Rwanda could benefit economically from receiving asylum seekers from the UK. Citing World Bank statistics, IGICUMBI noted Rwanda’s high unemployment rate of 14.9% in 2023, questioning how a population that includes many unskilled and possibly illiterate refugees could aid in economic advancement. They emphasized that Rwanda needs a qualified workforce rather than an influx of unskilled asylum seekers.

The letter also addressed the broader political implications of the UK’s policies. IGICUMBI condemned the use of the Genocide as a justification for the Safety of Rwanda Asylum and Immigration Act 2024, describing it as a misuse of historical events for political gain. They pointed out that such misrepresentations harm the survivors’ representation and management of the Genocide’s memory.

Dr. Philippe Básábose, the President of IGICUMBI, signed the letter, which was also sent to notable figures including His Majesty Charles III, King of the United Kingdom, The Rt Honourable Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the UK, and His Excellence Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, among others. The letter concludes with a request for Mr. Cleverly to retract his statements and issue an apology to the survivors of the Genocide, reflecting a stance against misinformation and the misuse of sensitive historical contexts.