Migrants emboldened by European judges’ halting the plane to Rwanda are boasting ‘we have won’ and being aided by charities on how to thwart future flights.
The Daily Mail yesterday found French police are despairing of ever stopping dangerous dinghy trips to the UK and a new ‘jungle’ camp is growing.
Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to send ‘irregular’ migrants to Rwanda to deter the crossings. But the first plane was stopped last week after the European Court of Human Rights intervened at the last minute. Yesterday there was evidence in northern France the message had got through that the way to England remains wide open.
Channel migrants are pictured on a Border Force vessel pulling into Dover yesterday morning
Nigerian migrant Adam, 26, a builder, said: ‘The immigrants have won in the courts. Migrants went to a judge, and he said it is not possible to send people to Africa.’ He spoke at a new migrant camp at Loon Plage, a few miles from Dunkirk.
There, half a dozen charities were in evidence. Leaflets from Care4Calais say once in the UK, if migrants receive a legal letter mentioning Rwanda they should message a specific number on WhatsApp. The charity leaflet adds: ‘We will help you.’
A charity worker from Utopia, 56, said: ‘There are about 350 people living here, we come and give out leaflets about crossing the Channel and how to get mental and dental help.’
Near food stands, three competing cigarette vendors and a shack selling £3 baguettes, was Markawi, 32, from Eritrea. He said: ‘I have little money, so me and friends are planning to buy our own boat. If they try to send us to Rwanda, I know I can call Care4Calais.’
Airport staff board the Ministry of Defence 767 which had been set to take migrants to Rwanda
To claim my country is not suitable for those fleeing war and famine is ignorant and racist: JOSEPH RWAGATARE, Education Adviser to the President of Rwanda, hits out at backlash over Priti Patel’s migrant plan
By Joseph Rwagatare for the Daily Mail
This week, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will represent the Queen in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting – after a European judge stalled the Home Office’s flagship policy of sending asylum seekers to the east African nation.
Though Charles has privately criticised the Rwanda scheme as ‘appalling’, many Rwandans support the plans. Here Joseph Rwagatare, who writes regularly in one of his country’s leading daily newspapers The New Times, insists that the migrants can expect a safe and happy home.
Last week, the first group of migrants was set leave Britain and land in Kigali, our vibrant capital, to a rousing Rwandan welcome. But – as you know – it was not to be.
To the intense disappointment of all of us here ready to receive them, their plane never took off.
A cabal of activists and lawyers, ultimately supported by the European Court of Human Rights, grounded the flight.
A worker is pictured cleaning a display showing Commonwealth member flags, Kigali, Rwanda
But while campaigners are gloating at having thwarted the British Government, they should pause to consider whether they are really helping migrants by stopping them from coming here.
Indeed, accusations that my country is not a suitable destination for people escaping war and famine – let alone seeking to make a new life in a new country – smack of ignorance, if not straightforward racism.
Yes, Rwanda is not perfect. Few countries are. But, as an emerging nation, we are working hard to overcome our challenges and put our troubled past behind us to build a healthy, successful society.
Kigali, our capital, is a modern city with hotels and restaurants offering global cuisine, a large international community and businesses great and small, including our burgeoning film industry, nicknamed ‘Hillywood’ – referring to Rwanda’s many hills.
We are a democratic, cosmopolitan country that welcomes both refugees and economic migrants.
Indeed, many Rwandans have themselves been refugees in the past – my early life was spent as a refugee in Kenya and Uganda – so we understand better than most what it is like to leave your home country. As such, we are all the more eager to embrace them. Instead of shunting arrivals to detention centres and treating them as aliens, any who come here will be a key part of our community. Some may not wish to stay long.
But when they eventually leave, they will not regret their time here. At the moment, to judge from British reports, they don’t seem to see it that way. And who can blame them? They have been fed false information by scaremongering campaign groups.
In leaving a rich country like France, they are clearly prepared to go to any length and endure the most extreme conditions to reach Britain. But they should look forward to coming here instead. Take the question of safety, which Britain’s pro-migrant charities and lawyers have raised.
Rwanda has consistently been ranked very high on global safety and peace indices. Those who visit for tourism or business attest to this. Our crime rates are low and recognised as such. So that ‘concern’ is false. As for worries about the wellbeing of members of the LGBT community, the suggestion that they will be denied basic services like medical care is unthinkable.
I do not know of any health facility in this country that requires patients to reveal their sexual orientation. That would be discrimination. So that smear can also be allayed.
As for human rights, what is better than giving people the chance at a better life?
So why do the British activists persist in terrifying migrants with alarmist tales about life in my ‘benighted’ nation?
Maybe there is something in it for them. The groups range from climate change campaigners to charities, activists, religious groups and politically motivated lawyers.
Many do not like the current British Government – and have tried to make my country a scapegoat. This is unfair both to Rwandans and the migrants who are being denied a fresh start.
Other opponents are driven by self-interest. Some charities, for instance, depend on the presence of asylum seekers for donations. And, of course, the migrants’ misery must be emphasised as much as possible to elicit the maximum support.
There is also a cadre of social workers, charities, civil servants and lawyers whose livelihoods depend on refugees being in Britain.
The truth is we all want the same result: To help those in need. The difference is that in Rwanda we are not simply offering people a temporary home out of duty or pity: We would be delighted if they wished to settle here.
As a former teacher, I know how important education is. We teach in English here because, as a small country, we want to open up as many doors as possible. We will also offer those settling here training to join the workforce.
And so it is hurtful to proud Rwandans like me when well-meaning but patronising campaigners in Britain paint Rwanda as a dangerous place.
If the do-gooders really want to do good, they would stop spreading misinformation and let people discover the truth for themselves.