UK/Rwanda. Immigration. A Problematic Agreement.

An unprecedented initiative that provokes contrasting opinions and evaluations. A double standard in migration policy.

 There have been reactions both in favour and against the recent agreement between Great Britain and Rwanda regarding asylum seekers in the United Kingdom and their possible diversion to Rwanda. The agreement was signed on April 14th.

Regardless of whether or not what has been decided happens, it was certainly harmful to hear the comment: “Why are these people being sent to a rubbish country? Why are they diverted to a poor country
like Rwanda?”

Rwanda is a country with its own values ​​and it does not shy away from playing its part in affirming the dignity of those who have suffered humiliation and discrimination, given that there are many Rwandans who know what it means to be rejected and not accepted, having lived for several years as uninvited guests in other countries.

As happened after 1959, with the end of the Belgian monarchy and colonialism, many Rwandans lived as unwelcome refugees and their children could not enjoy a good education and all were discriminated against in accessing good health facilities.

Moreover, after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, which resulted in the deaths of one million Tutsi and Hutu Rwandans, all Rwandans know that what happened in their country then reflects situations that occurred in many other parts of the world. At the height of the genocide crisis, they felt abandoned by everyone.

Those who believe that Rwanda should not welcome people rejected by powerful nations should therefore read the history of Rwanda. Knowing what it means to be rejected, Rwandans are willing to welcome all those whose dignity is trampled on by wealthy nations.

“Love does not care if a brother or sister comes from one place rather than another – writes Pope Francis – since love breaks the chains that keep us isolated and divided; instead, bridges must be built. Love makes us able to create a large family where one feels at home. Love is expressed in compassion and respect for the dignity of all“.

Considering refugees as normal people, Rwanda has been able to welcome thousands of refugees from different countries: the DR Congo, Burundi, Libya and Afghanistan. These are not just statistics but men and women of flesh and blood.

The Social Doctrine of the Church gives us clear indications as to what to do for those in need. We must invest in people and offer them the space to find the opportunity to live in dignity. The UK and other European nations are certainly to blame for the double standard used in the reception offered to refugees and asylum seekers.

Suffice it to look at the modality in place towards the Ukrainians welcomed with open arms in many European countries.
While it is true that Ukrainian refugees are to be welcomed and supported seriously, the commendable way in which they have been treated by various nations also shows the discriminatory tendencies in place vis-à-vis non-white refugees.

Strong political will is therefore needed to deploy the resources needed to address the reasons why people seek asylum in the first place. In this sense, it must be said that many African leaders have so far done a disservice to their people. And they will be called to account for it. (photo: 123rf)

Marcel Uwineza




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