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3 Jun, 2024 14:51

UK to deport asylum seekers to Africa next month – media

The British government intends to start sending migrants to Rwanda on July 23, Reuters has reported
UK to deport asylum seekers to Africa next month – media

The UK intends to start deporting asylum seekers who are in the country illegally to Rwanda starting July 23, Reuters reported on Monday, citing a government lawyer.

The announcement follows the passage of the Safety of Rwanda Bill by the UK Parliament in April, paving the way for the start of deportation flights. The legislation aims to block court challenges that have stalled the enforcement of an initial agreement between London and Kigali for asylum seekers who entered the UK illegally to be sent to the East African nation for claim processing.

Documents were submitted to the London High Court by the British government after a charity, Asylum Aid, challenged the policy, the outlet said. The intention was “to effect removals with a flight to Rwanda on July 23, 2024 (and not before),” the report said, citing government lawyers.

Last month, the British government announced it had launched a series of nationwide raids to track down illegal immigrants ahead of the first deportation flights scheduled for July, under a controversial immigration policy promoted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The highly contested scheme is dependent on Sunak’s Conservative Party winning the upcoming election. In a recent announcement, the prime minister said that flights deporting asylum seekers would not leave before Britons go to the polls on July 4.

The initiative, first drawn up by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022, was stymied by an intervention from the European Court of Human Rights, which halted the first deportation flight two months later. Last November, the UK Supreme Court also ruled the scheme illegal, declaring Rwanda an unsafe third country for refugee relocation.

Sunak’s Conservative government, which has committed to “stopping the boats” since taking office in 2022, has insisted the Rwandan scheme will address the influx of illegal immigrants entering via the English Channel. According to recent government figures, more than 7,000 people arrived on ‘small boats’ in the first four months of this year, an increase of more than 1,400 since the same January-April period last year.