Kagame Offers to Return UK Funds if Asylum Deal Falters

Davos, Switzerland -January 17, 2024: At the World Economic Forum, Rwandan President Paul Kagame opened the possibility of returning the £240 million received from the UK. This statement comes in the context of a controversial asylum deal between the two nations, under which the UK plans to deport certain asylum seekers to Rwanda. Kagame’s remarks were made during a brief interview conducted by the BBC’s Economics Editor, Faisal Islam, on the sidelines of the high-profile event.

This development marks a notable shift in Rwanda’s stance on the deal, which has so far seen no asylum seekers transferred to the country, despite the UK’s commitment of £240 million, with an additional £50 million pending. Kagame’s position raises significant questions about the future of this contentious agreement.

The Rwandan president’s tenure, spanning over three decades, has been marred by allegations of human rights abuses and dictatorial governance. Critics have often accused his government of using fabricated statistics to portray economic growth. Kagame’s regional policies, especially towards the Democratic Republic of Congo, have also been viewed as aggressive and destabilizing.

The asylum deal itself has been a focal point of political debate in the UK. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak advocates for the policy, claiming it will deter migrants from risky Channel crossings. In contrast, the Labour Party, led by Sir Keir Starmer, has denounced the plan as an ineffective and costly measure, vowing to abolish it if they win the general election. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, welcomed Kagame’s offer to refund the money, suggesting it be used instead for processing asylum cases within the UK and combating human trafficking.

The deal’s efficacy is further questioned following a report by the Daily Telegraph, which claims the UK government has lost contact with more than 4,000 people initially earmarked for removal to Rwanda. This situation underscores the complexities of the UK’s immigration system and the challenges in implementing such international agreements.