NO REFUNDS: Refugee Homes Funded By British Taxpayers Reportedly Being Sold Off By Rwandan Developers

Natasha Biase

The United Kingdom’s refugee agreement with Rwanda appears to have collapsed into disaster after the migrant homes paid for by the British public were sold off by developers to private buyers.

The homes were initially reserved for deportees from the United Kingdom who were set to be sent to Rwanda after the two nations came to an agreement.  Under the deal, migrants who reached Britain across the English Channel would be sent to Rwanda, where their asylum claims would be processed and, if successful, they would stay. As of December of 2023, the UK had given Rwanda nearly $300 million despite the nation not having accepted a single migrant.

Some estimates determined the cost per migrant sent to Rwanda would exceed $2 million.

Part of the funding scheme included British taxpayers footing the bill for over 250 affordable housing units on the Bwiza Riverside estate for the asylum seekers. But a new report has revealed that nearly 70% of the developed homes have been sold off to local buyers.

According to The Times, sold signs have appeared on hundreds of the properties in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, after the UK government encountered several setbacks delaying the transportation of the illegal immigrants to Rwanda.

ADHI Corporate Group developed the homes in partnership with the Kigali government, and the costs ranged between $15,000 and $30,000 each. In total, the scheme reportedly cost nearly $110 million and is said to have “captivated the attention of discerning homebuyers and investors alike.”

During a visit last year, former home secretary Suella Braverman praised the development as “beautiful,” adding that she loves the interior design of the homes and hopes Rwanda can settle an agreement with the UK to house thousands of migrants there.

Despite Braverman’s claims, the Rwandan government denies that the developments were intended exclusively for migrants. In a report by OpenDemocracy unpacking the property sales, the Rwandan officials explained that the community is willing to accommodate migrants in some capacity but never vowed to create migrant ghettos.

“It is simply not true that 70 percent of the houses are sold. Regardless, Bwiza Riverside estate is just one of the housing options where migrants will live alongside Rwandans. None of the assigned housing estates were ever meant to be only for migrants. The idea is to integrate migrants into Rwandan communities, not create migrant ghettos,” claimed Yolande Makolo, a spokesperson for the government.

The Rwanda scheme was first announced in April of 2022 but has faced several delays and legal challenges, including a Supreme Court ruling last November that the deportation plan is unlawful because Rwanda is not considered a safe country. Despite the setbacks, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak explained he remains “confident” in his deportation plan.

As a result, the Safety of Rwanda Bill was introduced in February to “confirm Rwanda as a safe third country for the removal of people entering the UK under new immigration laws and to deter migration by unsafe and illegal routes.” In addition to expecting the bill to pass later this month, Sunak believes “deportation flights will begin this spring.”

Despite initial claims the commitment would cost $366 million, the National Audit Office report reveals that plans to deport migrants from the UK to Rwanda will cost taxpayers almost double – $630 million, “plus hundreds of thousands for each deported person” to cover flights, processing costs and living expenses. 

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