A specially chartered flight with illegal immigrants on board is to take off from London in the evening and land the next morning in Kigali, according to opponents of the initiative.
By sending migrants who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to this East African country, more than 6,000 kilometers from London, the government intends to deter illegal crossings of the Channel, which continue to increase despite its repeated promises. to control immigration since Brexit.
“Criminal groups that put people’s lives in danger in the Channel must understand that their economic model will collapse under this government,” Boris Johnson insisted on LBC radio on Monday.
This controversial project, also castigated by Crown Prince Charles like the Anglican Church, and which recalls the policy pursued by Australia, has been validated by British justice.
The latter rejected at first instance and then on appeal last-minute appeals formulated in particular by associations to try to stop departures.
But the first flight risks taking off almost empty. Because if they failed to prohibit the measure, the multiple legal challenges had the effect of significantly reducing its scope.
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 and intend to pursue their challenge in court, while a demonstration gathered hundreds of people in front of the Ministry of the Interior on Monday evening.
“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.
– “Immoral policy” –
Illegal crossings of the Channel are the bane of the Conservative government, and regularly cause tensions with France, from where many migrants wish to reach England leave.
Since the start of the year, more than 10,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel illegally to reach British shores in small boats, an increase on previous years, which were already record highs.
Under its agreement with Kigali, London will initially finance the system to the tune of 120 million pounds (140 million euros). 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.
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 “seeks to shift its asylum responsibilities entirely to another country”, which goes against the 1951 Geneva Convention.
In a letter published Tuesday by The Times newspaper, the spiritual leaders of the Anglican Church, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, that of York Stephen Cottrell and 23 bishops, considered that “this immoral policy covers the United Kingdom of shame”.
“Our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice,” they insist.
Fueling the controversy, Prince Charles privately judged the government’s plan “appalling”, the Times reported on Saturday, when he is due to attend a Commonwealth meeting from June 20 in Rwanda.
In Kigali, Prince Charles and Boris Johnson are due to meet President Paul Kagame, who has ruled Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide, which claimed 800,000 lives according to the UN. His government is regularly accused by NGOs of repressing freedom of expression, criticism and political opposition.