Rwandan hotel urges British migrants to ‘come as a guest, leave as a friend’

Migrants can enjoy a full English breakfast, shoot hoops on a newly built basketball court and buy sweets from a gift shop when they arrive in Rwanda from the UK.

While staying at Hope Hostel in Kigali, those returned on deportation flights from Britain will also receive slip-on shoes and an unlimited supply of free toiletries.

Patrons of the hotel-style accommodation, which overlooks the green hills just beyond the East African nation’s capital, said they wanted people arriving to feel ‘at home’ .

The reception of Hope Hostel in Kigali, Rwanda (Victoria Jones/PA)

Hope’s slogan, inscribed on a banner adorning the entrance, invites migrants to “come as a guest, leave as a friend”.

Upon arrival, they will be tested for Covid-19 in a specially designed treatment tent which doubles as a games room, with a pool table and plans for darts and table tennis.

A playground will be created if and when children arrive, while staff are working hard to build a basketball court where football and badminton can also be played.

A security guard opens the front door next to a sign saying
A security guard opens the front door next to a sign that reads ‘Come as a guest, leave as a friend’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

During their stay they will receive a monthly stipend of 100,000RWF (around £90) and receive an information sheet detailing their rights and the services available before being interviewed under the tiled marquee as their asylum claims are determined and their immigration status established.

The bedrooms – with views of the surrounding town and countryside – come with comfortable duvets and pillows on two double beds with mosquito nets hanging overhead.

Towels, shower gel and shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste and prayer rugs are provided.

Room accommodation
Room accommodation (Victoria Jones/PA)

Hope can accommodate 100 people over four floors, typically with two people per room, with around 12 on each floor.

Some open onto a small patio and a garden courtyard.

There are 12 showers and toilets – six of each – in the communal bathrooms on each floor as well as two prayer rooms for men and women to pray separately, computers, water coolers providing hot and cold water and laundry facilities.

A pair of slip-on shoes provided to all new arrivals
A pair of slide shoes provided to all new arrivals (Victoria Jones/PA)

Men and women will be separated on different floors and those who test positive for coronavirus will be isolated.

Guards are on hand to deal with any troublemakers and anyone found to be aggressive or causing distress to other migrants could be separated and provided with support services such as counseling and medical treatment, officials said. government officials and hotel staff.

Three meals a day are offered in the bright and airy dining room while a large screen TV plays music and news channels.

Construction workers shovel dirt at the site of a basketball court to be built next to the Hope Hostel
Construction workers shovel dirt at the site of a basketball court to be built next to the Hope Hostel (Victoria Jones/PA)

The menus are adapted to the individual dietary needs of the migrants.

Breakfast options include full cooked English, omelettes, and fruit, while curries, other local dishes, and Middle Eastern and Asian dishes are offered for lunch and dinner.

Residents will also have the opportunity to cook their own food while meals of their own will sometimes be prepared by the kitchen, which offers 24-hour snacks for anyone feeling peckish between meals.

Cigarettes for sale in the gift shop
Cigarettes for sale in the gift shop (Victoria Jones/PA)

Overall, staff estimate that food, accommodation and supplies at the site cost 60,000 Rwandan francs (RWF) – around £48 – per person, per day to provide.

Of this amount, food costs around 15,000RWF (around £12) per person per day.

In the gift shop, cigarettes are on sale for 3,000 RWF (£2.50) along with t-shirts (5,000 RWF or £4), matches, socks and boxer shorts.

CCTV cameras in a hallway outside the house
CCTV cameras in a hallway outside the bedroom (Victoria Jones/PA)

Shopkeeper Sandrine Mushimiyimana, 23, said more stock was due to arrive, including sweets, chocolate, postcards, deodorant and other toiletries, with migrants able to request items to be ordered.

Ms Mushimiyimana, who is from Kigali and was previously a computer technician, said she enjoys her job and it pays well.

When asked why she wanted to work there, she added, “I think that’s good what they do here.”

A chef works in the kitchen
A chef works in the kitchen (Victoria Jones/PA)

The hotel, which is run by around 20 on-site staff and has its own security team, CCTV, bag scanner and metal detectors, stands on manicured grounds. with cleaners and gardeners employed by private companies to keep it intact.

Plants are dotted throughout the common areas, while locally made artwork and crafts hang on the walls.

Suggestion boxes are placed throughout the property allowing residents to give feedback anonymously and anyone unhappy with the accommodation is encouraged to report it to management, who said they would be happy to try to make changes to make their stay more comfortable.

The dining room
The dining room (Victoria Jones/PA)

Government spokeswoman Claire Gatayine told reporters during a visit on Thursday that they only learned around 11 p.m. Tuesday that the migrants would not arrive as planned after some complained of having were taken to Rwanda.

The accommodation had already ordered food and other supplies in anticipation of the arrival and stands ready to welcome migrants whenever the first flight takes place.

When asked if it was upsetting to hear reviews of the facilities before anyone arrived and from people who had never been there, Deputy General Manager of Accommodation Phiona Uwera , answered: “Yes. We want to give them good accommodation and a nice place to stay,” adding later, “We want them to feel at home and have everything they could possibly want. We hope they will be happy here.

Cleaning facilities at the entrance to the dining room
Cleaning facilities at the entrance to the dining room (Victoria Jones/PA)

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