UK's First Flight Set to Deport Migrants to Rwanda After Court Refuses to Block Plan

UK's First Flight Set to Deport Migrants to Rwanda After Court Refuses to Block Plan

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A British government plan to deport asylum-seekers of various nationalities to Rwanda is set to go ahead after an appeals court refused to block the policy.

Monday's decision came amid criticism at home and abroad over the plan, which the United Nations' top refugee official said sets a dangerous precedent for migrants fleeing war and oppression, AP reported.

Immediately after the decision by a three-justice panel of the Court of Appeal in London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said the first deportation flight would go ahead as scheduled on Tuesday evening.

Migrant advocacy groups have attacked the policy as inhumane and illegal ever since April, when Johnson announced the plan as way to deter people from risking their lives by paying smugglers to take them to Britain in leaky inflatable boats.

Migrants deported under the program would be forced to apply for asylum in Rwanda, not Britain. The UK paid Rwanda $158 million up front and will make additional payments based on the number of people deported.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, lashed out against the policy, describing it as “all wrong.”

If the British government is truly interested in protecting lives, it should work with other countries to target the people smugglers and provide safe routes for asylum seekers, not simply shunt migrants to other countries, Grandi said after the ruling.

“The precedent that this creates is catastrophic for a concept that needs to be shared, like asylum,” he told reporters in Geneva.

Monday’s ruling was focused on the narrow question of whether a temporary injunction should be issued blocking deportation flights to Rwanda while a case challenging the legality of the policy moves through the courts.

Further legal challenges are underway.

While a major precedent is at stake, the number of people immediately affected by the cases has been steadily whittled down as lawyers challenge the merits of each deportation order. The charity Care4Calais said all but eight of the 31 migrants originally told they would be on the flight to Rwanda have had their tickets canceled.

The court cases came amid a bitter political debate over Johnson’s deportation plan.

The leadership of the Church of England has joined the opposition, sending a joint letter to the Times of London to be published Tuesday.

“Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation,” the letter said. “The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.”

Johnson defended the policy.

“I think that most people can see that the criminal gangs ... need to be stopped, ″ he said. “That model needs to be frustrated. ″

He also dismissed the significance of the legal challenges.

“I always said that it will begin with a lot of teething problems and you will have a lot of legal action against it and they will try and delay it — that’s inevitable, ″ he said during a visit to a farm.

Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and still among the least developed despite its focus on modernizing since the country’s 1994 genocide.

The migrants who sought better lives in Britain are expected to find fewer chances to pursue their dreams there, even as Rwandan officials describe their country as having a proud history of welcoming those in need.

For years, human rights groups have accused Rwanda’s government of cracking down on perceived dissent and keeping tight control on many aspects of life, from jailing critics to keeping homeless people off the streets of the capital, Kigali. The government denies it.

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