Speech by the Home Secretary on the UK-Rwanda partnership on migration and economic development

I am delighted to be here in Kigali, Rwanda alongside our friend and partner, Minister Dr Vincent Biruta.

I would like to express my personal thanks to him and his team for the constructive way in which they have worked with my team for many months to realize and implement this partnership.

The UK has a long and proud history of development with Rwanda. Our common interests have resulted in strong economic and development growth that lifted millions out of poverty, but also in the growth of manufacturing and technology sectors, which generate jobs and sustainable growth for generations to come.

I know firsthand that your country, Minister, is a regional and international leader. You are on the world stage, most often yourself, but you also host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the World Telecommunication Development Conference and the Sustainable Energy for All Forum.

Your national leadership is the African voice on international initiatives, which really speaks and seeks to find solutions to regional and international challenges.

I am very honored to be here and the UK looks forward to working ever closer with Rwanda.

We have many, many common interests, and face many of the same challenges. I would now like to address one of these challenges.

The global migration crisis and the way we fight illegal migration require new cutting-edge solutions.

There are an estimated 80 million displaced people worldwide and the comprehensive approach to asylum and migration is broken.

Malicious smugglers and their criminal gangs make it easier for people to enter Europe, resulting in loss of life and huge costs to the British taxpayer.

The tragic deaths of people in the English Channel and the Mediterranean at the hands of these evil smugglers must stop.

And today, our approach of two outward-looking countries is reflected in the signing of a new international partnership, which is a world first. This is a migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda and the UK.

This will see some of those who arrive in the UK illegally, such as those crossing the Channel in dangerous small boats, being transferred to Rwanda to resettle and rebuild their lives in the way the Minister has just described.

More than 28,000 migrants crossed the Channel last year in small boats in very dangerous and perilous conditions

The UK asylum system is collapsing under a combination of real humanitarian crises and malicious smugglers who profit by exploiting the system for their own gain.

Criminals exploit the hopes and fears of migrants, tricking them into making dangerous journeys to the UK with fictitious and false promises that they can settle in the UK if they succeed.

This has devastating consequences for the countless men, women and children who have tragically lost their lives or lost loved ones on perilous journeys.

It is also deeply unfair, as it benefits those who can afford to pay smugglers over vulnerable people who cannot.

Global systems and conventions have failed to deal with this global crisis.

The world has changed and renewed global leadership is needed to find new, innovative solutions to this growing problem.

Today, the UK and Rwanda signed a new joint migration and economic development partnership to end this deadly human trafficking trade.

This is part of the UK’s new immigration plan to control our borders, protect our communities, stop dangerous illegal migration, help the world’s most desperate people and welcome international talent to the UK.

This is the biggest overhaul of our immigration system in decades, underpinned by our soon-to-be-law Nationality and Borders Bill.

Our country, the United Kingdom, has always extended the hand of friendship to those in need.

In recent years alone, we have proudly welcomed tens of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as BNOs from Hong Kong.

Rwanda has one of the strongest records of refugee resettlement and in recent years and as the minister just said, Rwanda has resettled over 100,000 refugees.

It has an established record of receiving and integrating people, such as those from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, but also, for example, people from Libya evacuated under the emergency transit mechanism of the EU, in partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency and the African Union. Rwanda is also a state party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and all seven UN fundamental human rights conventions.

Border control is fundamental to national sovereignty. Uncontrolled immigration reduces our capacity and capacity to help those who need our support the most. It exerts intolerable pressure on public services and local communities.

And in our country, as the Prime Minister said today, because the capacity of the asylum system is not unlimited, the presence of economic migrants – whom these illegal routes introduce into the asylum system – inhibits our ability to support others who genuinely need protection.

The British people are fair and generous when it comes to helping those in need, but the persistent circumvention of our immigration laws and rules and the reality of a system open to gambling and criminal exploitation have eroded public support for the UK asylum system and those who really need to access it.

Putting evil smugglers out of business is a moral imperative. This forces us to use all the tools at our disposal – and also to find new solutions.

This is why the current partnership on migration and economic development with Rwanda is such an important step.

It is also very much in line with our vision of a global Britain that harnesses the potential for new relationships and drives investment and jobs in partner countries.

By working together, the UK and Rwanda will help make the immigration system fairer, keep people safe and take advantage of new opportunities to thrive.

We have agreed that people who enter the UK illegally will be considered for relocation to Rwanda to have their asylum claim decided.

And those who are resettled will receive support, including up to five years of training to help with integration, housing and healthcare, so they can resettle and thrive.

This agreement is fully compliant with all international and national laws, and as part of this groundbreaking agreement, the UK is making a substantial investment in Rwanda’s economic development.

This will support programs aimed at improving the lives of Rwandans and developing the country, economy, job prospects and opportunities.

In addition, the UK will provide funding and expertise to implement this agreement.

As I have said many times, this is a global problem, with many countries struggling to address the challenges and causes. And there is no single or simple solution.

This agreement shows that we can no longer accept the status quo. People are dying and the global migration crisis requires new ways to find new partnerships and find new solutions.

This will deal a heavy blow to evil smugglers.

We know it won’t be easy, we know we will face challenges along the way, but with the Nationality and Borders Bill and the new plan for immigration, the UK will support those who flee oppression, persecution and tyranny by safe and legal means, while controlling our borders and deterring illegal entry.

Our Global Partnership on Migration and Economic Development is a world first and will change the way we collectively fight illegal migration through new, innovative and cutting-edge solutions.

Thank you.