As the UK’s migrant deal with Rwanda faces increasing scrutiny, concerns are raised by Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a dissident who spent eight years in prison challenging the regime. Umuhoza urges the UK to reconsider the deal, expressing apprehension over her nation’s history of financial mismanagement.
The UK has already sent £100 million extra as part of the migrant deal, with an additional £50 million expected to be paid. Despite the substantial financial commitment of £240 million, no migrants have been moved to Rwanda yet. Umuhoza, 52, emphasizes the need to safeguard the deal, citing official Rwandan figures that reveal a loss of £4 million due to mismanagement in the year ending June 30, 2022. This amount is more than double the previous year, with £106,000 fraudulently diverted.
“The auditor general has found mismanagement of public funds many times. We don’t know if this money will be mismanaged, but it has happened before,” warns Umuhoza, underscoring the potential risks associated with the significant financial investment.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, known for imprisoning opponents, including YouTubers and journalists, has faced criticism for the lavish lifestyle of his family members. While there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Kagame or his family, Umuhoza highlights Rwanda’s lack of affluence, stating, “The British Government should drop this plan. Rwanda is poor, refugees cannot find a job here. We have nothing to offer. I’m sure the refugees will not stay here.”
Human Rights Watch previously criticized the 2012 imprisonment of Umuhoza, leader of the DALFA-Umurinzi party, as “flawed” and “politically motivated.” Umuhoza further points out that Rwanda is not a free country for refugees, with journalists and YouTubers in prison for challenging the narrative.
In response, the Home Office asserts that the UK government is committed to doing whatever it takes to stop illegal boat crossings and initiate flights to Rwanda. The situation underscores the delicate balance between addressing migration challenges and ensuring the responsible use of financial resources, as concerns over mismanagement and human rights issues come to the forefront of the debate surrounding the controversial migrant deal.