Rwandan President Paul Kagame has denied allegations that his country is “trading human beings”. This is the president's first comment on Rwanda's deal with the UK on migrants.
The deal requires that asylum seekers arriving in the UK on small boats will be relocated to Rwanda for processing and resettlement.
The controversial £120m ($15m) deal has attracted criticism from different angles mostly, the opposition.
The deal was signed in the absence of the president who was then embarking on a tour to Congo-Brazzaville, Jamaica, and Barbados. The president says the money was not the motivation behind Rwanda agreeing to the deal.
“We are not trading human beings, please, we are actually helping,” he said during a virtual seminar with US’s Brown University.
Mr Kagame added Rwanda was approached due to how “we managed in the Libyan case”.
He said he decided in 2018 when he chaired the African Union that Rwanda would offer shelter to migrants stuck in Libya while trying to cross to Europe.
Nearly 1,000 migrants have since been taken to Rwanda for processing, with two-thirds of them being relocated to European countries and Canada.
A number of analysts have raised concerns about the economic implications the deal is likely to have on the country.
Two opposition parties in Rwanda have called the deal “unrealistic” and called on the government to focus on local problems instead of solving the "burdens of rich countries”.
Additional sources • BBC