The Rwandan government has once again defended a controversial deal to take in migrants deported from the United Kingdom, saying it was ready to take in "thousands" under the "innovative" programme.
At a press conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Tuesday, June 14, government spokesperson Yolande Makolo said the agreement, criticised by the UN and human rights organisations, was a "solution to a failing global asylum system".
"People can have their opinion on this programme depending on where they come from or how it is portrayed in the media but for us, it is about being part of a solution to a failing global asylum system," she said.
"We are doing it for good reasons," she added: "We don't think it is immoral to offer people a home."
The government spokesperson could not state the exact number of migrants due to arrive as the first charter is scheduled to take off Tuesday evening, according to migrant advocacy groups.
"We are happy to take in thousands during the course of this programme. Our president has in the past pledged to take in more than 30,000, so we have the capacity to do so," she said.
Following various individual appeals filed in the British courts, only seven migrants are expected to leave on this charter, according to the Care4Calais association, whereas the authorities initially intended to send up to 130 (Iranians, Iraqis, Albanians or Syrians).
"We do not consider that living in Rwanda is a punishment (...) We will do our best to ensure that migrants are taken care of and able to build a life here", added Ms Makolo.
By sending asylum seekers who have arrived illegally in the UK to the East African country, more than 6,000km from London, the government aims to deter illegal crossings of the Channel, which have been increasing despite its repeated promises to control immigration since the Brexit.