Relations between Rwanda and the United Kingdom are set for a new high after a London court gave a nod to their migration partnership deal that will see the transfer of illegal immigrants to Rwanda in the coming months.
While the decision is still subject to an appeal, the court decision on Monday allows both countries to forge ahead with their plans. The UK government this week said it is ready to defend any further legal challenges.
“We have always maintained that the policy is lawful. We know that there are further legal challenges that are possible, and we will continue to vigorously continue to defend it within the courts going forward. Once the litigation process has come to an end we will move swiftly to be in a position to operationalize it and deliver on our promise.” Suella Braverman, UK Home Secretary’s told
Parliament on Monday during a debate about the court's decision. Braverman added that Rwanda has been a victim of misinformation yet the country is a “safe and dynamic country with a thriving economy” that has an excellent record of supporting refugees and vulnerable migrants.
“The UN has used Rwanda for the relocation of vulnerable migrants from Libya, and this was first funded by the European Union. Many migrants have already built excellent lives in Rwanda and our partnership is a significant investment in that country and further strengthens our relationship.”
But the deal appears to have improved relations between the two countries after a diplomatic feud linked to the UK placing Rwanda on its travel ban red list in January 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time, the UK government said the decision was to prevent the spread of new variants of Covid-19. But this upset Rwanda whose national courier- RwandAir had just launched flights to Heathrow Airport.
Rwanda protested the ban, saying the “arbitrary decision” by the UK does not “stand up to scientific scrutiny” given the country’s strict enforcement of Covid-19 protocols. The UK has maintained that the decision was taken to minimize the risk of the new variants spreading into the country.
The travel ban was lifted in October 2021. Since then, RwandAir has relaunched flights to London via Brussels, and on 6th November, the airline Rwanda launched direct flights between London Heathrow and Kigali due to increasing demand.
“The UK is an incredibly important market for us, and we know our customers will value the shorter flight times and increased connections that will be offered by the new service.
These direct f lights will increase access for those looking to see the famous mountain gorillas, experience Rwanda’s majestic scenery, or go on a safari at Akagera National Park.” said Yvonne Makolo CEO of RwandAir.
Last week, Omar Daair, British High Commissioner to Rwanda described the relations between the two countries as very strong but this year has taken it to another level as demonstrated by visits of several senior British figures including his Majesty the Kind and Queen Consort among others.
“The reason there is so much interest ( in Rwanda ) is because this is a country that is ambitious about what it is doing for its own development and a country that is ambitious on what it can do
on a world stage in terms of helping to contribute to tackling global challenges. The UK is very happy to work with Rwanda...” He said, pointing out that organizing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) and handing over the chairmanship of the Commonwealth to Rwanda has brought the countries together.
This is in addition to the Migration and Economic Development Partnership signed in April 2022 as well as