The chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he would place a hold on U.S. financial aid to Rwanda over concerns about the Rwandan government’s human rights record and their role in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Senator Robert Menendez wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for an immediate comprehensive review of U.S. aid policy to Rwanda.
Menendez said he would begin by placing a hold on several million dollars in support for Rwandan U.N. peacekeepers. The U.S. provided $147 million in aid in 2021.
Senetor Menendez is worried that U.S. support for the Rwandan army, who are currently fighting in the DRC would send:
“a troubling signal that the U.S. tacitly approves of such actions.”
Menendez also raised concerns of credible accusations that the Rwandan government was muzzling critics at home and targeting dissidents living outside the country. This is something the United Kingdom government raised in 2021, before changing its stance when it signed a new deal.
U.S. Start Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a Monday press briefing:
“We’ve said before that we’re concerned about the rising tensions between the DRC and Rwanda,”
Mr Price also said The State Department will look at what Congress has found and review it’s aid policy to Rwanda.
Awkward Situation For The United Kingdom
This announcement will come as blow to the UK Government, as it has recently defended Rwanda’s Human Rights record when trying to justify their currently paused, Rwandan Deportation Scheme for asylum seekers who arrive by boat.
Both Conservative leadership candidates have said they would keep the Rwanda scheme, with Liz Truss even saying she would expand it. It is the second blow after the Rwandan government said despite claims of tens of thousands being sent to the African country, they only have plans to house 200 asylum seekers at this time.
The Home Office did not respond for comment.
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