Rwanda ‘not deterred’ after asylum flight cancelled

The Rwandan government said on Wednesday it was still committed to taking in asylum seekers sent by the United Kingdom (UK) under a controversial deal after a first flight was cancelled following a European court ruling.

“We are not deterred by these developments. Rwanda remains fully committed to making this partnership work,” government spokeswoman, Yolande Makolo, told AFP.

“The current situation of people making dangerous journeys cannot continue as it is causing untold suffering to so many,” she said.

“Rwanda stands ready to receive the migrants when they do arrive and offer them safety and opportunity in our country.”

A first flight was due to take off from Britain for the Kigali late Tuesday but was cancelled after a last-minute ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

The UK’s policy of deporting asylum seekers to a country thousands of kilometres away has been branded “immoral” by church leaders in England and heavily criticised by the United Nations (UN) refugee agency and rights groups.

The Appeal court in London has refused to stop the first chartered flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda scheduled for Tuesday, June 14.

However, fewer than 11 migrants of the 130 that were handed “removal directions” will be on the flight, which was part of the new controversial immigration policy by the United Kingdom government.

Activists and campaigners, including the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, had lodged an appeal against Friday’s High Court ruling which said the flight on Tuesday could go ahead. They had also asked the court to ground all flights till a judicial review of the policy scheduled for next month.

“This appeal is dismissed,” Judge Rabinder Singh said on Monday.

The UN refugee chief on Monday slammed the plan. “We believe that this is all wrong… for so many reasons,” Filippo Grandi told reporters.

A plane load of 31 claimants was due to depart Tuesday as part of an agreement reached with Kigali that London said it aimed at deterring illegal migrants from undertaking perilous crossings of the Channel by boat. -AFP

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