Despite strong criticism, London prepares for first deportations to Rwanda

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Several migrants of Iraqi, Albanian, Iranian and Syrian nationality, should be expelled Tuesday evening by the United Kingdom in the direction of Rwanda. A measure initiated by the government of Boris Johnson and contested by the UN and human rights associations. The Rwandan opposition is also indignant.

The government of Boris Johnson is in the process of implementing a measure sharply criticized by the UN, by human rights associations and by Prince Charles himself.

A specially chartered flight with illegal immigrants on board is due to take off from London on the evening of Tuesday June 14 and land the next morning in Kigali. Unless canceled at the last minute, the first migrants who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom must be deported to Rwanda.

According to France 24 correspondent in Kigali, Simon Wohlfahrt, “a dozen migrants of Iraqi, Albanian, Iranian and Syrian nationality” are expected, away from the cameras, journalists were not allowed to be present. .

By sending these illegal migrants to this East African country, more than 6,000 kilometers from London, the government intends to deter illegal crossings of the Channel. These continue to rise despite Boris Johnson’s repeated promises to control immigration since Brexit. Since the beginning of the year, more than 10,000 migrants have illegally crossed the Channel to reach British shores on small boats, a record.

“Criminal groups that put people’s lives in danger in the English Channel must understand that their economic model will collapse under this government,” the British Prime Minister insisted on Monday on LBC radio.

The first flight risks taking off almost empty

This controversial project, which recalls the policy pursued by Australia, has been validated by the British justice system. A court rejected at first instance, then on appeal, last-minute appeals made in particular by associations to try to stop the evictions. New appeals are expected on Tuesday.

But the first flight is likely to take off almost empty. Because if they failed to prohibit the measure, the multiple legal challenges had the effect of significantly reducing its scope.

“There will be people on these flights and if they are not on this flight they will be on the next one,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss replied on Sky News. “What really matters is establishing the principle” and “breaking the economic model of these terrible people, these traffickers who trade in distress”.

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According to the Care4Calais association, which denounced a “cruel and barbaric project”, at least 23 people out of 31 have seen their ticket to Rwanda canceled. Among those initially due to leave were Iranians, Iraqis, Albanians and a Syrian, she said.

After this first flight, the associations do not intend to give up. A demonstration gathered hundreds of people in front of the Ministry of the Interior on Monday evening.

The migrant aid associations intend to pursue their challenge in court. “We are disappointed, but our broader appeal against this policy will be defended in July,” reacted the association Detention Action about the detailed examination of the legality of the measure scheduled for next month.

Economic interest for Rwanda

“Rwanda’s interest in setting up such a mechanism is above all economic”, emphasizes Simon Wohlfahrt in Kigali. The journalist was able to visit the hotel which will welcome the migrants. “The Rwandan government has obtained 144 million euros from London for the implementation of this agreement.”

The hotel where the migrants will be accommodated has just been renovated. It was previously intended to house around twenty orphans of the 1994 Tutsi genocide.

The Rwandan government has specified that it will offer migrants the possibility “to settle permanently”.

Rwanda’s ambassador to the UK, Johnston Busingye, told the Daily Telegraph he was “disappointed” that critics of the scheme doubted Kigali’s ability to provide “safe haven” for asylum seekers.

A violation of the Geneva Convention

But for the UN, headwind since the announcement of the measure, “this agreement is not going at all, for so many different reasons”.

Human rights organization HRW says London is “seeking to shift its asylum responsibilities entirely onto another country”, which goes against the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees in the world.

On the Rwandan side, the opposition reacted strongly to the London project, explains Simon Wohlfahrt. “For Victoire Ingabire, president of the Dalpha Umurinzi party – not recognized by the authorities – Rwanda has nothing to offer these migrants, while thousands of Rwandans are already unemployed. She believes the UK is placing the blame for its asylum seekers on a poor and undemocratic country.”

With AFP

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