Rwanda: We’re not obligated to refund UK for scrapped asylum deal

Doris Picard, an adviser to Rwanda's minister of justice.

The government of Rwanda says it is not obligated to reimburse the United Kingdom (UK) after a multi-million-pound migrant deal between the two countries was called off.

The partnership was about relocating asylum seekers to the East African country for processing and was part of the UK’s efforts to cut net migration.

Under the scheme, the Home Office agreed to pay money to support economic growth in Rwanda and provide extra payments to cover the cost of processing and relocating migrants there.

The UK government has already paid £220 million to Rwanda under the arrangement.


However, legal challenges and kickbacks from human rights groups did not allow the scheme to take off.

Shortly after assuming office, Keir Starmer, the UK’s new prime minister, said the plan had been “dead and buried”.

On Monday, the UK government said it would look carefully at what money can and cannot be recouped.


A Downing Street spokesperson said any savings would be redirected to a new border security command to tackle small boat crossings.

Reacting to the development, the Rwandan government issued a statement clarifying that it fully upheld its side of the agreement, including the finances.

Speaking to the BBC World Service in an interview aired on Wednesday, Doris Picard, an adviser to Rwanda’s minister of justice, said the country is under no obligation to refund the UK.

Picard added that the country had expended resources in preparing for the migrants.


“Rwanda has maintained its side of the agreement, and we have ramped up capacity and increased our capacity to accommodate thousands of migrants and asylum seekers,” the minister’s aide said.

“We believe that if there is any overpayment, that can be discussed; however, we are under no obligation to provide any sort of refund.”

In January, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame suggested that some money could be returned if no asylum seekers were sent to the country.

Picard said Rwanda ensured an “impeccable” preparation for the migrants’ arrival, noting that the agreement was a state-to-state partnership done in good faith.


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