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Rwanda: Good News For Kigali Hotels, Asylum Seekers Arrive

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Rwanda’s government has a reputation in human rights circles of being repressive – and has previously been accused of sending hit squads to kill dissents in exile and of demanding loyalty from Rwandans in the diaspora.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s plan to send asylum seekers to the East African country.

“Rwanda has totally transformed over the last few decades, it’s a very, very different country from what it was,” he said recently, although much of the criticism is aimed at President Paul Kagame’s government, which has been in power since 1994.

Though it is unclear how many asylum seekers the UK plans to send, Rwanda has also identified 102 rooms at the Hallmark Residence in Kigali’s Nyarugunga suburb.

There are 30 furnished three- and four-bedroom bungalows, with their own gates and gardens.

The six-storey hotel has 72 rooms with views of the hilly city. It is set in a residential area with a mix of stand-alone homes and businesses – and will be one of the places in the city where Rwanda plans to accommodate asylum seekers sent by the UK under a controversial deal between the two governments.

Operations manager Jackie Uwamungu cheerfully shows me around.

“We have VIP, silver, double and twin rooms, a swimming pool and a conference hall,” she said as we went up the stairs.

The rooms are basic with a bed, movable wardrobe, desk and chairs and a small television set mounted on the wall.

Business is just recovering from the long disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Ms Uwamungu.

So the migrants deal is a welcome relief.

“Oh, it will boost our business, honestly,” she admits.

But not all Rwandans are enthusiastic about the deal

Opposition politician and former political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza said that before offering to host asylum seekers, Rwanda’s government should focus on solving the political and social issues that make Rwandans seek refuge abroad.

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