British PM Announces First Asylum Seeker Flight to Rwanda in 10-12 Weeks

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sees the Rwanda deportation plan as key to fulfilling his pledge to "stop the boats" and disrupt people-smuggling networks that bring migrants to the UK illegally.

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British PM Announces First Migrant Flight to Rwanda in 10-12 Weeks
Photo: AP

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed plans for the UK’s first flight carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10-12 weeks.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Sunak emphasized the government’s readiness for upcoming flights, despite potential challenges.

“We’ve put an airfield on standby, booked commercial charter planes, and have 500 highly trained individuals ready to escort illegal migrants,” Sunak stated.

He confirmed that flights would commence in July, asserting confidence that the plan aligns with Britain’s international obligations. Sunak addressed concerns about the European Convention on Human Rights, prioritizing national security over foreign court membership.

Additionally, Sunak urged the House of Lords to cease obstructing legislation facilitating asylum-seeker deportations to Rwanda.

“We are ready. Plans are in place, and these flights will go come what may. No foreign court will stop us from getting flights off,” he said.

Back Story

The UK government, under successive prime ministers, has pursued a policy of sending asylum seekers who arrive in the UK illegally to Rwanda for their asylum claims to be processed there.

The government argues this policy is aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the “incredibly dangerous” journey to the UK.

The UK has signed a 370 million pounds ($470 million) million deal with the Rwandan government to outsource the UK’s asylum system, allowing people who have arrived in the UK by irregular means to be deported to Rwanda.

In 2023, nearly 30,000 migrants and refugees crossed the English Channel in small boats to reach the UK, many of them not from the African continent. 

The government has claimed Rwanda is a “safe country” to which asylum seekers can be sent, despite criticism of Rwanda’s human rights record and concerns that genuine refugees could be returned to the countries they fled from. 

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