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UK-Rwanda deal: Kigali residents react to first flight cancellation

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and Britain's PM Boris Johnson at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London on January 20, 2020.   -  
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In the streets of Kigali Wednesday, many residents commented the cancellation of what was supposed to be the first flight from the UK carrying migrants to the east African nation. Seven migrants were due to embark on the plane under what’s called an "economic development partnership" between the UK and Rwanda. However, a last-minute legal ruling grounded the plane.

"The fact that these migrants have not come, is a loss to the country and the general public because their livelihoods would have benefited us and we would have been working together, Hakizimana Emmanuel, a businessman commented. Now it is obvious that this is a loss."

The Rwandan government sposkerperson Yolande Makolo said they were "not deterred by [the] developments". The British Home Secretary added the government was "not put off by the inevitable legal last minute challenges."

The UK-Rwanda deal provides that migrants entering the Kingdom illegally will be resettled in Rwanda while their asylum applications are processed. Barber Manzi Eric Danny viewed their arrival of the migrants as an opportunity:  "We have helped other people in the past; I heard the Foreign affairs Minister say that money will be given to Rwanda because it has received these refugees and they have skills which they can share with Rwandans; it was an opportunity for us."

The number of those due to be put on the flight dwindled from an original 130 to seven and finally none following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

Student Ngabonzima Zephanie regrets the setback: "If such a thing had been planned and it failed, then people don’t believe in the country anymore. Everyone knows Rwanda is a peaceful country, having such news that they cancelled at the last minute gives us a bad image, now we are at a loss because we can’t give the service we intend to give had they come."

The policy has been branded "immoral" by Brititsh church leaders and criticized by the UN.

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