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British PM, Sunak meets Rwanda’s Kagame to ‘correct’ controversial migrant deal 

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British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak is sticking to his words to keep pressing for a migrant deal with Rwanda despite recent major legal setbacks for the arrangement. He met Rwandan President, Paul Kagame on Friday for a discussion on the subject.

Sunak is currently finalising his response to a block on the policy in the Supreme Court in London. His government has maintained that it is working on a new treaty with Rwanda, as well as a new domestic legislation, following a verdict that declared the policy unlawful last month.

When reporters questioned Sunak about his conversation with Kagame during the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, he replied that while he was “confident” in his government’s proposals, the two leaders wanted to ensure that the plan’s details were correct.

“We’re finalising the arrangements we have with them. It was good to check in with him on that and reiterate… our commitment to making the partnership work,” Sunak said at a press conference.

“Paul and I have forged a very strong relationship over this issue. He’s keen to work very constructively with us.”

Last year, Britain announced its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda at 169,000 pounds ($215,035) per person. The cost of deporting each person to Rwanda would include an average payment to Rwanda of 105,000 pounds for holding each asylum seeker, 22,000 pounds for travel and accompanying, and 18,000 pounds for processing and legal charges.

Concerns over illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East have been on the front burner in Europe in recent years. As of June 2023, a record 45,000 people had crossed the English Channel in small boats. Like Britain, Italy is also facing growing pressure from migrants crossing the Mediterranean, with a surge in arrivals this year compared to 2022. Almost 150,000 people have landed in Italy so far in 2023, against around 10,200 in the same period last year.

Musings From Abroad

Rwanda to receive at least $470m from Britain for asylum deal

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As part of the arrangement to have asylum seekers in the UK relocate there, Rwanda will receive at least $470 million from the United Kingdom.

The National Audit Office (NAO), the UK government’s spending watchdog, disclosed on Friday that up to $190,000 would also be paid for each individual sent to the East African nation over five years.

The NAO report was released in response to MPs’ demands for increased clarity regarding the scheme’s cost. However, Labour has criticised the figures, labelling them a “national scandal.”.

Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, stated in January that the United Kingdom’s attempts to establish an asylum agreement with his nation are proceeding too slowly, following opposition to the proposal that resulted in demonstrations, legal actions, and decisions that put a stop to it. In November, the Supreme Court declared the plan to be “illegal.”

The UK Supreme Court declared in November that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, making the government’s plan to send thousands of migrants there illegal.

As a result, the Prime Minister proposed emergency legislation that would supersede both domestic and international human rights laws and halt deportations, and Sunak and Rwanda signed a new treaty. In December, there will be a first vote on the legislation in Parliament.

Britain and Rwanda first signed the deal in April 2022. The UK Supreme Court declared in November that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, making the government’s plan to send thousands of migrants there illegal.

The five-year agreement would allow the UK to deport people who enter the nation illegally and allow them to apply for asylum in Rwanda.

As a result, the Prime Minister proposed emergency legislation that would supersede both domestic and international human rights laws and halt deportations, and Sunak and Rwanda signed a new treaty. In December, there will be a first vote on the legislation in Parliament.

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Musings From Abroad

US urges UN Security Council action in Sudan conflict

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The United States has asked the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the nearly year-long conflict in Sudan between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese army.

The RSF and its allies are accused by the US of committing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, in addition to the war crimes committed by the fighting parties.

According to the UN, about 8 million people have fled their homes, hunger is on the rise, and nearly 25 million people—or half of Sudan’s population—need aid.

“It is clear that this is an urgent matter of peace and security that demands greater attention from the Security Council,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters in a statement.

“The council must act urgently to alleviate human suffering, hold perpetrators to account, and bring the conflict in Sudan to an end. Time is running out,” she said, without specifying what action the 15-member council should take.

The council has only released three press releases denouncing and expressing concern about the war since it broke out on April 15, 2023. It was similar to the wording used in a resolution passed in December that closed a political mission of the United Nations at the request of Sudan’s acting foreign minister.

According to a UN sanctions monitoring report seen by Reuters last month, between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed in one city alone in Sudan’s West Darfur region last year in ethnic violence committed by the RSF and allied Arab militia.

Visiting a refugee camp in Chad close to the border with Sudan’s Darfur in September, Thomas-Greenfield expressed her disappointment, saying, “I am deeply disappointed that the allegations detailed in this report have received such little attention, both inside the U.N. Security Council and outside the United Nations.”

Recently, the Sudanese government banned aid supplies from entering Chad, thereby blocking a vital supply route to the vast region of Darfur, which is under the control of the rival RSF. The action was deemed “unacceptable” by Thomas-Greenfield because it jeopardised a “critical lifeline.”

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