Seven asylum seekers are understood to be on tonight’s flight to Rwanda

Trade Minister, Liz Truss. Image uk.gov

It is understood that seven asylum seekers will be on tonight’s flight to Rwanda after two legal challenges failed.

Speaking to Sky News, the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on June 7 that if they were not on tonight’s flight, “they will be on the next.” She said however that she could not confirm the number thought to be on the flight.

Liz Truss told Sky News she could not say exactly how many migrants would be on board the plane which is due to take off this evening.

The flight, which is understood to be costing around half a million pounds, follows the failure of two legal challenges although it is understood that a further three will be launched on the day the first of the flights is expected to take off.

Speaking to Sky News Truss rejected claims from Church of England leaders that the policy “shames Britain” saying the policy was “completely legal” and “completely moral” and challenged opponents to come up with an alternative to the scheme.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as well as 23 other bishops, have written to The Times claiming that no attempt has been made to “understand the predicament” of those affected.

Their letter says: “Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation.

“The shame is our own because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries.

“Deportations and the potential forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries are not the way.”

Truss went on to claim the policy, which failed Israel, “is effective and does work.”

Continuing she said: “I can’t say exactly how many people will be on the flight.

“But the really important thing is that we establish the principle and we start to break the business model of these appalling people traffickers who are trading in misery.

“There will be people on the flight and if they are not on this flight they will be on the next flight.”

Although she did not know the cost of the flight she claimed: “It is value for money.”

Opposition Shadow Culture Secretary Labour’s Lucy Powell told Sky News: “We think this policy is unworkable… it’s incredibly expensive. It’s going to cost possibly over a million pounds per unsuccessful or successful refugee going to Rwanda. And we do think it’s unethical – and it’s quite un-British actually.

“We’ve been known around the world as a safe haven for those genuinely fleeing persecution and war – it’s been part of our make-up in this country for decades.”

The letter and the news of the deportation flight come days after the Prince of Wales reportedly described the Conservatives’ policy as “appalling”, and after Imam Qari Asim, the senior imam at the Makkah Mosque in Leeds, said it “challenges our human conscience and compels us to speak up for human dignity.”

Human rights groups, the UN High Commission for Refugees and others have all criticised the policy, but these have fallen on deaf ears with the UK government determined to see the policy implemented.

Welcoming the court’s decision a government spokesman said: “We welcome the court’s decision in our favour, and we will now continue to deliver on progressing our world-leading migration partnership which will help prevent loss of life and break the business model of vile people smugglers.

“Rwanda is a safe country and has previously been recognised for providing a safe haven for refugees – we will not be deterred in delivering our plans to fix the broken asylum system which will ultimately save lives.”

Of the 28,000 people who crossed the Channel in small boats last year, more than half were either Iranian or Iraqi, with people from Eritrea and Syria also making crossings, according to Home Office figures.

With further challengers to the policy expected in court today, it is possible that there will be further delays to the flight to Rwanda that is expected to remove the first seven asylum seekers.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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