Survivors of the Rwanda genocide were made homeless within two days of the UK signing the controversial Rwanda migration partnership. Hostel Hope, in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, has housed survivors of the 1994 genocide for nearly 30 years, but they were made destitute when new arrangements were made to accommodate asylum seekers from the UK.
Residents of Hope Hostel in Rwanda were forced to leave following former Home Secretary Priti Patel’s signing of the £120m Rwanda migration partnership in April 2022, which seeks to send asylum seekers and migrants to Rwanda for processing.
The governments ‘dream’ is survivors’ nightmares
Under the migration partnership that former home secretary Priti Patel signed with the Rwandan government, no deportation flights have taken off so far. However, last week the current home secretary, Suella Braverman, said during the Tory party conference that her “dream” is to have the image of a plane taking off to Rwanda on the front page of the Telegraph.
Braverman’s comments were shortly followed by reports that prime minister Liz Truss is set on “ramming through” a short Bill to stop European judges blocking deportations of asylum seekers from the UK.
The government’s first attempt to send asylum seekers to Rwanda under this policy failed because of a last-minute ruling from the European Court of Human Rights(ECtHR), which held that the removal of one claimant should be halted until the UK’s domestic courts had the opportunity to consider whether, if sent to Rwanda, the claimant would suffer treatment contrary to his human rights. The flight was halted minutes before takeoff. But the government has since said it “remains committed” to the plan.
In a recent high court case to determine the legality of the Rwandan policy, the charity Asylum Aid stated: “The Rwanda policy and the process under which the Homes Office wants to send people to Rwanda tramples over their rights and goes against the spirit of the Refugee Convention and everything we stand for.”
Survivors need stability and support
David Russell, UK coordinator for Survivors Fund, a charity helping to rebuild the lives of survivors of the Rwandan genocide, said:
“Even though genocide happened some time ago and the country has largely rebuilt itself, there is still a real pressing need for support for the most vulnerable, marginalised survivors that don’t have access to assistance.”
Russell continued: “There’s still very little provision or access to mental healthcare in Rwanda. Those that experienced genocide live with the trauma that they experienced at that time. It’s not something that you just solve – it arises at different points of different stages in the lives of survivors, so there’s a need for constant access to that support, which is a real principal focus.”