Deportations from Rwanda: Seven asylum seekers believed to be on tonight’s flight as Liz Truss insists flights will continue | world news

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Seven people are expected to be on the first flight sending asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, according to Sky News, as the Foreign Secretary insisted that if they are not on that plane “they will be in the next”.

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

But she rejected claims by Church of England leaders that the policy of placing asylum seekers on a one-way flight to East Africa “puts Britain to shame”.

Two legal challenges to the first flight under the scheme have now failed, but it is understood it is currently only expected to carry seven people – and reports have put the cost of the flight at £500,000. Three other legal challenges are expected today.

Ms Truss told Sky News: “We expect to dispatch the flight later today.

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

“But the important thing is that we lay down the principle and that we start to break the business model of these appalling human smugglers who trade in misery.

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

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York – along with 23 other bishops – have written a letter to The Times saying no attempt has been made to “understand the plight” of those affected.

After two failed legal challenges, a plane is due to depart later for the Rwandan capital, Kigali, but it is unclear how many asylum seekers will be on board.

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

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

Faith leaders have called for combating ‘evil trafficking’ by providing safe routes for refugees trying to reach the UK, adding: ‘Deportations and the potential forcible return of asylum seekers to their countries of origin are not the solution”.

It occurs a few days after the Prince of Wales reportedly calls Tory policy ‘appalling’and after Imam Qari Asim, the chief imam of the Makkah Mosque in Leeds, said it ‘challenges our human conscience and compels us to uphold human dignity’.

Read more:
What is it like to be a refugee in Rwanda?
Asylum seeker says he’d rather die than be sent to Rwanda
Why are migrants sent to Rwanda and how will it work?

The Archbishop of Wales and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster have also criticized the policy, as have charities, human rights groups and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Three other legal challenges are due to be heard in the High Court on Tuesday. These are brought by people who risk being deported on the first flight.

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Judges reject bid to stop migrants fleeing to Rwanda

The government said it was aimed at deterring people from doing dangerous crossings of the English Channel from France in small, fragile boats driven by smugglers.

A government spokesperson said: “We welcome the court’s decision in our favour, and we will now continue to advance our global partnership on migration, which will help prevent loss of life and break the business model of dastardly smugglers.

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

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Inside the Rwanda Migrant Hostel

Last year more than 28,000 people crossed the English Channel in small boats – more than three times the number seen in 2020.

More than half were Iranian or Iraqi, with people from Eritrea and Syria also making the crossings, according to Interior Ministry figures.

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