Inside £19-a-night tourist hotel in Rwanda that will host Channel migrants flown 4,000 miles from the UK for up to three months in Australia-style plan to send them to country in desperate need of young men
- Hope House, a hostel in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, is currently being used as accommodation for tourists
- Privately owned, East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property
- Huge backlash over the plan today, with campaigners pointing out the country’s mixed human rights record
These are the first pictures inside a £19-a-night tourist hotel in Rwanda that is expected to host Channel migrants flown 4,000 miles from the UK in an Australia-style plan to halt illegal crossings.
Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of Kigali, is set to be the first place asylum seekers will stay for around three months while their claims are being processed before they are moved elsewhere.
Privately owned, the East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is understood to be keen on the arrangement because his country is in desperate need of young male workers following a decades-long trend of young men leaving Africa.
A view of facilities at Hope House, a hostel in Nyabugogo, the Gasabo district of the capital city Kigali, in Rwanda
Plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda from the UK are anticipated to initially see them taken to the former tourist hostel
Home Secretary Priti Patel made a private visit to Hope Hostel today to see an example of what accommodation may be on offer.
How will the new Rwanda migrant scheme work?
Cross-channel arrivals assessed and anyone deemed an economic migrant rather than a refugee is sent to Rwanda
- Plan is limited to male migrants only
- Initial agreement worth £120million over five years
- Failed immigrants urged to start new life in Africa
- Initially based at hostel in Kigali
- Hope House is currently being used as budget accommodation for tourists
- Privately owned, the East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property
- Royal Navy to take over Channel policing role from Border Force from today
- PM attacked ‘a formidable army of politically motivated lawyers’ who have thwarted previous action
- PM: ‘Our compassion may be infinite but our capacity to help people is not. We can’t ask the British taxpayer to write a blank cheque to cover the costs of anyone who might want to come and live here.’
It is understood to be Ms Patel’s first visit to Rwanda since the deal was thrashed out, after being briefed by Home Office and Foreign Office officials who have been researching the plan.
The complex has 50 rooms at present and can accommodate around 100 people with up to two people per room and sharing communal bathrooms.
But there are plans to expand the facility by building more accommodation blocks, eventually seeing it offer 150 rooms and be able to sleep up to 300 people.
Asylum seekers are expected to be provided meals three times a day to eat in a communal dining room, with some kitchen facilities also available for those with special dietary requirements.
The government’s plan has already faced a massive backlash, with claims that it is both cruel and expensive.
Dr Peter William Walsh, Senior Researcher at the Migration Observatory in Oxford, said it would face ‘all kinds of logistical challenges’.
He told MailOnline: ‘Australia’s offshore experiment was beset by all kinds of problems, with people unable to access healthcare, as well as high rates of suicide and abuse. Then there’s the financial side to it.
‘The Australian system was thought to be 800 times more expensive to house them offshore than in local centres. It cost one billion Australian dollars (£567m) to house fewer than 300 people.
‘There are so many questions about this plan and a lot of scepticism about whether it will actually come to pass given all the challenges it will face.’
Rwanda is best known in the west for a 1994 ethnic genocide that left up to 800,000 Tutsi people dead and it still has a mixed human rights records.
Amnesty International says there are still concerns over ‘enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force’.
Earlier this month the Refugee Minister Lord Harrington said there was ‘no possibility’ of migrants being sent there. But Boris Johnson today branded it ‘dynamic’ and one of the safest countries in the world.
Privately owned, the East African nation’s government is understood to be in negotiations to lease the property so asylum seekers sent from the UK can stay there temporarily while their claims are processed
The complex has 50 rooms at present and can accommodate around 100 people with up to two people per room and sharing communal bathrooms
There are plans to expand the facility by building more accommodation blocks, eventually seeing it offer 150 rooms and be able to sleep up to 300 people
Welcome to Rwanda: Regime in genocide-haunted country accused of murder, kidnapping and torture
Rwanda is a landlocked country in central and eastern Africa best known in the west for the horrific 1994 ethnic genocide.
In just 100 days of a brutal civil war, up to 800,000 Tutsi people were murdered, with many of them hacked to death in their homes by armed militias of the Hutu majority.
Up to half a million women were raped as violence gripped the country, often with neighbours turning on neighbours.
The carnage provoked horror and condemnation around the world, and the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front later won the war and forced those responsible for the murder into exile.
But while the country is more stable today, it still has a highly questionable human rights record.
Earlier this week the US State Department produced its annual analysis of the country.
It reported ‘significant human rights issues’ with the Government, including:
- unlawful or arbitrary killings
- forced disappearance
- torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
- harsh and life-threatening prison conditions
- arbitrary detention
- political prisoners or detainees
- arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy
It added: ‘The government took some steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses and acts of corruption, including within the security services, but impunity involving civilian officials and some members of the state security forces was a problem.’
In a separate report, Amnesty International reports similar findings.
While noting the Kagame government had acted to help women prosecuted for having abortions, and to prosecute those accused of genocide, it added: ‘Violations of the rights to a fair trial, freedom of expression and privacy continued, alongside enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and excessive use of force.’
It is understood Channel migrants will be processed in the UK and officials will decide whether they are a genuine asylum seeker.
If they are deemed to be economic migrants, they will be sent to Rwanda, where schemes will be put in place to help them build a new life.
It is thought that in other cases, all asylum processing will take place after the claimant arrives in Rwanda. Britain will pay the costs of their resettlement.
A source told the Telegraph that the British Army would be involved to prevent ‘battles on the quayside’, adding: ‘They will drive you to the airport and send you straight to Rwanda’.
The Refugee Council charity was among those to urge an immediate rethink of the plan, with chief executive Enver Solomon saying it would not work and would cost the taxpayer around £1.4billion a year as part of the while asylum system.
The United Nations refugee agency also expressed concern over the ‘shifting rather than the sharing of responsibilities’.
Labour and Mr Johnson’s Tory critics claimed it was an expensive move to switch attention away from the Partygate row which continues to embarrass No10.
At a press conference today, Priti Patel said the agreement with Rwanda ‘fully complies with all international and national law’.
She said the deal is ‘in keeping with our vision for global Britain that harnesses the potential for new relationships, and stimulates investments and jobs in partner countries’.
Home Secretary added: ‘Working together, the United Kingdom and Rwanda will help make the immigration system fairer, ensure that people are safe and enjoy new opportunities to flourish.’
She said people who enter the UK ‘illegally will be considered for relocation’ to have their claims decided, adding: ‘Those who are resettled will be given the support, including up to five years of training with the help of integration, accommodation, healthcare, so that they can resettle and thrive.’
She added that the UK is making a ‘substantial investment in the economic development of Rwanda’ which aims to develop the country’s economy and support its people.
‘This is very much, number one, a partnership,’ she said. ‘Clearly we engage in dialogue and we have been for over nine months now.
‘But Rwanda has a very unique history in terms of refugees and resettlement, resettlement in particular. First and foremost, Rwanda is a safe and secure country with the respect for the rule of law, and clearly a range of institutions that have evolved and developed over time.
‘If I may say so, Rwanda has been very forward leaning, and has been very dynamic in the conversations that we have had as well around, yes, economic growth and the partnership, but respect for people and giving them the ability to find new opportunities, but effectively restart their lives, rebuild careers, potentially, and settle here successfully.’
Migrants travelling to the UK on small boats will be put on jets and sent to Rwanda while their applications are processed
The Prime Minister ordered warships to take over from the Border Force as the latest wave of arrivals from France were pictured landing in Kent
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