The first flight transporting asylum seekers to Rwanda as part of Britain’s controversial policies was canceled on Tuesday, which was an awkward blow to the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The number of those scheduled to take off fell from an initial 130 to seven on Tuesday and finally none thanks to a last-minute ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was disappointed that “a last-minute legal challenge and claim” meant the plane did not take off, but vowed to pursue a highly criticized policy.
“We will not be hindered,” she said in a statement.
“Our legal team is reviewing every decision made on this flight, and preparations for the next flight begin now.”
The justification came from the ECtHR’s decision that at least one of the asylum seekers should stay in Britain as there were no guarantees for his legitimate future in Rwanda.
The UK Home Secretary said the flight cancellation was “very strange”.
Ms. Patel called the ECtHR’s intervention “very strange” and promised that “many of those who were removed from this flight will be placed on the next.”
The flight cancellation is a embarrassment for the Conservative government of Johnson after Foreign Secretary Liz Trass insisted that a plane flying to Kigali take off, no matter how many people were on board.
“There will be people on the flights, and if they are not this flight, they will be the next flight,” Ms. Trass told Sky News earlier Tuesday.
The ECtHR has taken urgent interim measures to prevent the deportation of an Iraqi booked for the flight, as he may have been tortured and his asylum application has not been completed.
A Strasbourg court has said the deportation must wait until British courts make a final decision on the legality of the policy set for July.
“Everything is wrong”
The human rights group Care4Calais wrote on Twitter that the same measure could be applied to others planned to be transported to Rwanda.
Ms. Trass said the policies, which the UN refugee agency criticized as “wrong”, were vital to destroying trafficking groups that exploit vulnerable migrants.
A record number of migrants have crossed the dangerous English Channel from northern France, putting pressure on the London government to act after it has vowed to tighten borders after Brexit.
British media reported that about 260 people trying to cross in small boats were taken ashore at the port of Dover on the English Channel by 12:00 GMT on Tuesday.
More than 10,000 have been crossed since the beginning of the year.
“Shame on Britain”
Legal problems in recent days have failed to halt the policy of deportation, which two top clergy of the Church of England and 23 bishops have called “immoral” and “disgraceful to Britain.”
“They (migrants) are a vulnerable group that the Old Testament calls us to value,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell wrote in a letter to The Times.
“We cannot offer asylum to everyone, but we must not outsource our ethical responsibilities or waive international law that protects the right to claim asylum.”
Last weekend, it was reported that Queen Elizabeth II’s heir, Prince Charles, had privately described the government’s plan as “terrible”.
But Ms. Rabbit said: “The people who are immoral in this case are traffickers who are human traffickers.”
Human rights activists react to the fact that they lost the appeal before the Supreme Court in London, Great Britain, June 13, 2022. Source: EPA / Andy Raine
In Kigali, government spokeswoman Yolanda Makola told reporters it was an “innovative program” to combat the “broken global asylum system.”
“We do not consider it immoral to offer a house to people,” she told a news conference.
Mr Johnson told his senior ministers that the policy was “correct”.
“Value for money”
Ms Trass said she could not name a figure for the cost of a charter flight, which is valued at more than £ 250,000 ($ 303,000).
But she insisted that value for money would reduce the long-term costs of irregular migration, which the government said would cost UK taxpayers £ 1.5 billion a year, including £ 5 million a day.
At the port of Calais in the English Channel in northern France, migrants said the risk of deportation to Rwanda would not stop their attempts to reach Britain.
Musa, 21, from the Darfur region of Sudan, said “getting the documents” was an attraction. “That’s why we want to go to England,” he said.
The deported asylum seekers, who will eventually make a 4,000-mile (6,500-kilometer) trip to Kigali, will be housed in the Hope Hostel, which was built in 2014 to shelter orphans from the 1994 genocide of about 800,000 in mostly ethnic Tutsis.
Hostel manager Ismail Bakina said up to 100 migrants could be accommodated at a rate of $ 65 per person per day and that “this is not a prison.”
The Kigali government has rejected criticism that Rwanda is not a safe country and that serious human rights violations are occurring.
But Rwandan opposition parties are questioning whether the resettlement scheme will work, given the high level of youth unemployment.