British government sees its first flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda canceled due to lack of passengers

After hours of tension and intense judicial activity, the first flight of asylum seekers from the United Kingdom to Rwanda was finally canceled at the very last moment, Tuesday evening June 14, to the great relief of the handful of migrants – three Iranians, a Vietnamese, two Iraqis and an Albanian – who were about to be taken there against their will. They ended up obtaining reprieves, in particular thanks to urgent appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Boeing 767 which had been chartered especially for them, and was about to take off from the Boscombe Down military base (in the south-west of England), remained grounded.

This flight was initially supposed to have around 130 passengers, but the vast majority of them had successfully appealed the decision to deport them to the British courts in recent days, citing personal cases – victims of torture, minors, etc. Its cancellation undermines the new migration policy of Boris Johnson’s government, aimed at sending migrants to Rwanda. “thousands” asylum seekers arrived “illegally” in the UK (crossing the English Channel on rubber dinghies) to discourage them from undertaking this dangerous journey.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers UK to send asylum seekers to Rwanda

“Preparations for the next flight are starting now”

Even if the plane were to take off with only a handful of asylum seekers, ” this worth the pain “, estimated Liz Truss, who made the rounds of British television on Tuesday morning. “It’s a question of deterrence”, insisted the Minister of Foreign Affairs, according to whom these flights are also intended to discourage Channel crossings. According to the British media, the flight on Tuesday was to cost the government 500,000 pounds sterling (576,000 euros).

In addition to the morality of the agreement between London and Kigali – denounced, exceptionally, by the entire hierarchy of the Anglican Church – it is its legality which was also in question on Tuesday evening. The ECHR took at the very last minute a “interim measure” and “urgent” against the sending of asylum seekers to Rwanda, citing the concerns of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees about the reception conditions in Rwanda, or the fact that there is no partnership between Kigali and London of a mechanism to allow deportees to return to the UK. “Returning people fleeing violence to a country thousands of miles away [du Royaume-Uni] was already cruel and ruthless. It is now potentially illegal,” stressed on Twitter Sadiq Khan, the Labor mayor of London.

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