UK cancels its first flight to Rwanda to deport asylum seekers

LONDON -- Britain cancelled a scheduled flight to Rwanda to transport asylum seekers late Tuesday night after the European Court of Human Rights intervened.

UK cancels its first flight to Rwanda to deport asylum seekers

LONDON -- Britain cancelled a scheduled flight to Rwanda to transport asylum seekers late Tuesday night after the European Court of Human Rights intervened. They claimed that the plan posed "a real risk of irreversible damage."

Asylum seekers' lawyers launched a series of case-by-case appeals to stop the deportation.

Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary, had stated earlier that no matter how many people were aboard the plane, it would take off. After the appeals, however, no one was left.

Three days of court battles in courts as labor unions and immigration rights advocates tried to stop deportations, culminated with the decision to cancel the Tuesday flight. The Church of England's leaders joined the opposition and called the government's policy "immoral".

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Britain, had defended the plan despite the protests. He claimed that it was a legal way to protect people and stop criminal gangs from smuggling migrants across the English Channel by small boats.

Priti Patel, Home Secretary, said that she was disappointed by the flight's inability to leave but would not let this stop her from doing the right thing.

Patel stated that "our legal team are reviewing all decisions made on this flight" and that preparations for the next flight begin now.

Johnson in April announced an agreement with Rwanda, in which illegal immigrants to Britain will be deported to East Africa. Rwanda will receive millions in development aid dollars (millions of pounds) in exchange for their acceptance. The deportees can apply for asylum in Rwanda and not Britain.

Opponents argue that it is illegal and cruel to send people thousands upon miles to a country they do not want to live. In recent years, Britain has witnessed an illegal influx from places like Syria, Afghanistan Iran, Sudan, Iraq, and Yemen.

Activists denounce the policy as an attack upon the rights of refugees, which most countries recognize since the end World War II.

The U.N. refugee agency has condemned the plan because it is concerned that other countries may follow suit since war, repression, and natural disasters are forcing more people from their homes.

Denmark and Austria are currently considering similar proposals. Since 2012, Australia has had a Nauru-based asylum processing center.

"At a worldwide level, this unapologetically punishing deal further condones evisceration of right to seek asylum from wealthy countries," stated Maurizio Albahari (a migration expert at Indiana's University of Notre Dame) as he described UK policy.

Over the past 20 years, millions of people have been forced from their homes around the world. This has put the international refugee agreement under pressure. According to the U.N. refugee organization, the world had 26 million refugees at the end of the year. This is more than double the number 20 years ago. Millions more people have fled their homes in search of economic opportunities in the developed world.

These pressures have resulted in a rise in people crossing the English Channel using inflatable boats. Sometimes, this can lead to disastrous results. 27 people were killed last November when their boat capsized in the English Channel waters.

Johnson, who was fighting for his political career amid concerns over his leadership and ethics responded by promising to end such risky trips.

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Follow AP's coverage of migration issues at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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