By David Himbara
The first manoeuvre by General Paul Kagame to make money from hosting asylum seekers dates back to 2013–2018. That is when Israel made and implemented the doomed deal with Rwanda to host what the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “infiltrators” mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. Israel would pay the Kagame regime US$5,000 for every deported “inflitrator” that Rwanda took in. In addition, Israel would pay each “inflitrator” US$3,500 and their airfare. By 2018, however, the human trafficking deal had collapsed. Netanyahu explained the collapse of the scheme to deport the “infiltrators” as follows:
“In the last two years, I have been working with Rwanda so that it will serve as a “third country” that takes in infiltrators who will be deported even without their consent…Rwanda agreed to this and we started the process of deportation to it. In recent weeks, under tremendous pressure on Rwanda from the New Israel Fund and factors in the European Union, Rwanda backed out of the agreement and refused to accept infiltrators from Israel…”
The next would-be source of income for General Kagame was Denmark. The scheme which was confirmed in 2021 entailed Denmark sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, where their cases would be processed, instead of allowing them to live in Denmark. In return, Denmark would “expand development cooperation with Rwanda in areas where there are strong common interests.” The Denmark deal is off the rails, however. On January 25, 2023, the Minister for Migration and Integration, Kaare Dybvad, announced that “We are not holding any negotiations at the moment about the establishment of a Danish reception centre in Rwanda”. Instead, Denmark will work with other EU countries on asylum seekers, and will no longer go it alone, the Minister added.
Enter the UK government under the premiership of Boris Johnson. In April 2022, the British government announced that some asylum seekers who cross the Channel to the UK would be given a one-way ticket to Rwanda, which would process them and resettle some of them. On April 14, 2022, Johnson bombastically declared that the asylum seekers deported to Rwanda would be “given the opportunity to build a new life in that dynamic country.” He shamelessly added that “Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world, globally recognised for its record on welcoming and integrating migrants.” In return, the UK paid Rwanda £120 million and was also to pay for the processing and integration costs of £12,000 for each relocated asylum seeker deported to Rwanda.
Things did not go according to plan, however. The UK deportations to Rwanda stalled following the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR ordered that the then ongoing judicial proceedings in the UK must be concluded, before any deportations to Rwanda could begin. Subsequently, the High Court ruled that the UK government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is legal. However, on January 24, 2023, the London’s High Court granted permission to appeal against the ruling that the UK plan to send migrants to Rwanda is lawful. Kagame’s decade-long desperation to make money for hosting deported asylum seekers by Israel, Denmark, and the UK is doomed. Stay tuned.