Rwandan hostel that once housed genocide survivors is ready to welcome migrants from the UK

Rwanda says it is ready to welcome migrants from the United Kingdom after the British Parliament this week approved a controversial and long-stalled bill aimed at stemming the flow of people crossing the Channel in small boats by expelling some of them to this East African country.

There's even a place ready and waiting for migrants: a renovated Hope Hostel in the upscale and bustling Kagugu neighborhood, a neighborhood in the Rwandan capital of Kigali that is home to many expats and several international schools.


The hostel once housed students whose parents died in the 1994 genocide, the most horrific period in the African country's history, when an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were killed by Hutu extremists in massacres that lasted more than 100 days.

Rwanda-United Kingdom-Migrants

The exterior of the Hope Hostel, which is one of the places expected to house some of the asylum seekers who are to be sent from Britain to Rwanda, is seen in the capital Kigali, Rwanda, June 10, 2022. Rwandan government deputy spokesperson Alain Mukuralinda said on Tuesday April 23, 2024 that it was ready to welcome migrants from the United Kingdom after the British Parliament this week approved a long-stalled bill aimed at stemming the flood of people crossing the Channel in small boats, expelling some towards the East. African country. (AP Photo)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised deportation flights would begin in July, but refused to provide details or say how many people would be deported.

Rwandan deputy government spokesperson Alain Mukuralinda told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Rwandan authorities had been preparing for the migrants' arrival for two years.

“Even if they arrive now or tomorrow, all the arrangements are in place,” he said.

The project has long been held up in British courts and in the face of opposition from human rights activists who consider it illegal and inhumane. It plans to deport some of those who enter the UK illegally to Rwanda and migrant rights campaigners have vowed to continue fighting the plan.

The measure also aims to deter migrants who risk their lives in leaking inflatable boats in the hope of being able to claim asylum once they arrive in Britain. The UK also signed a new treaty with Rwanda to strengthen migrant protections and passed new legislation declaring Rwanda a safe country.

“Critics of Rwanda and British judges who previously said Rwanda was not a safe country were wrong,” Mukuralinda said. “Rwanda is safe.”

Management of the four-story Hope Hostel says the facility is ready and can accommodate 100 people at full capacity. The government says it will serve as a transit hub and more housing will be made available as needed.

Thousands of migrants arrive in Britain every year.

After arriving from Britain, the migrants will be taken to their rooms to rest, after which they will be offered food and orientation points on Kigali and Rwanda, said hostel manager Ismael Bakina.

Tents will be set up within the hostel grounds for processing their documents and for various briefings. The site is equipped with security cameras, visible throughout the premises.

Also within the enclosure are entertainment venues, a mini-football field, a basketball and volleyball court as well as a prayer room covered with red carpet. For those who want to light up, “there is even a smoking room,” explains Bakina.

Meals will be prepared in the inn's main kitchen, but arrangements are also being made for those who wish to prepare their own meals, he said. Migrants will be free to leave the hostel and even visit nearby Kigali city center.

“We will have different translators, depending on (their) languages,” Bakina added, specifying that they include English and Arabic.


The government said migrants would have their papers processed within the first three months. Those who wish to stay in Rwanda will be allowed to do so while authorities will also assist those who wish to return to their home country.

In Rwanda, migrants who obtain legal status – presumably for Britain – will also be processed, authorities said, although it is unclear exactly what that means.

For those who choose to stay, Mukurilinda said the Rwandan government will assume full financial and other responsibilities for five years, after which they will be considered integrated into society.

At this point, they can begin to fend for themselves.


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