Two diplomats are to be sent from Denmark to work in a new office in Kigali, Rwanda by the end of the year, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The objective of the office will be to strengthen relations between the two countries, the ministry said.
“Denmark and Rwanda share a wish to help more refugees better than today and to fight irregular and life-threatening migration, including across the Mediterranean,” immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said in the statement.
“Our shared goal is to reform the current, flawed asylum system and ensure a dignified and sustainable future for refugees and migrants. I am therefore pleased that we will soon be able to open an office in Rwanda,” he said.
In additional comments to news wire Ritzau, the minister said the new office “means we are going a step further in relation to strengthening our partnership with Rwanda with regard to opening a refugee centre.”
“I’m not saying this solves everything. But it is a step on the way to fulfilling the ambition which ensures we open a refugee centre. In relation to the agreement we have, this gives us new possibilities because we have a permanent location in the country,” he said.
Moving part of Denmark’s refugee system offshore to a non-EU country – confirmed in 2021 as Rwanda – is a long-term objective of Denmark’s Social Democratic government.
The plans entail Denmark sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, where their cases would be processed by Danish authorities, instead of allowing them to live in Denmark.
Negotiations between the two countries over the specifics of such an arrangement are ongoing.
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A spokesperson from the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR said in April that the agency “does not view the idea of outsourcing asylum, whether to Rwanda or another country, as a responsible or sustainable solution.”
Human rights organisations Amnesty International has previously criticised the Danish plan, saying it takes “responsibility-shifting of refugee protection by EU governments to a new low, and would set a dangerous precedent in Europe and globally”.
The minority government’s usual parliamentary allies, the centre-left Social Liberal party and left-wing Red Green Alliance, have both stated that they oppose the plan to process asylum seekers in Rwanda, news wire Ritzau reported.