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Rwanda says plans to receive deportees unfazed by court ruling

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame walks along Downing Street to a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in London, Thursday, May 4, 2023   -  
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Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

United Kingdom

Rwanda insisted Friday that it was safe for asylum seekers after the British Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled against a plan by London to deport illegal migrants to the east African country.

The verdict said that Rwanda cannot be considered a safe third country. But Kigali says its treatment of refugees has been examplary, even earning it praise from the United Nations.

"In any case, we're sure and certain that the country is safe, and we're going to examine the whole copy of the judgement in detail, and see what the judges based their conclusion on. And we're sure we can prove the opposite," said Alain Mukuralinda, deputy spokesman for the Rwandan government.

The ruling is a blow to the Conservative government in London, which is keen to be seen as acting tough on irregular migration. 

For accepting deportees, Rwanda has already been advanced millions of dollars in fees.

"Just because there have been court rulings halting the implementation of the agreement does not mean that the money has not been used. The money will continue to be used until the first migrant is in Rwanda. Rwanda must therefore be ready to welcome them. I would say to you that today, even if tomorrow we were sent 100 or 200 or 300 migrants, we are ready to receive them," Mukuralinda said. 

Activists have singled out Rwanda's dismal human rights record, and its treatment of the political opposition in opposing the deal. 

Both London and Kigali have insisted that the country is a safe destination for deportees.

More than 45,000 people entered British territory by crossing the English channel in 2022, according to government figures – a jump of more than 17,000 from the previous year’s record.