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Rishi Sunak says first migrant flight from U.Ok. to Rwanda will depart in 10-12 weeks


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks throughout a press convention at Downing Street on April 22, 2024 in London, England.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

U.Ok. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on April 22 mentioned he would push by way of a parliamentary vote on his authorities’s extremely controversial Rwanda deportation laws, as he promised that flights would start taking asylum seekers to Rwanda in 10-12 weeks.

A report quantity — just below 5,000 — individuals had arrived within the U.Ok. on boats by way of the English Channel within the first quarter of this yr in accordance with U.Ok. Government knowledge. Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh had been the highest 5 international locations of origin for migrants arriving in boats in 2023.

“Parliament will sit there tonight — and vote — no matter how late it goes,” Mr. Sunak mentioned a press convention in Downing Street on Monday. The House of Commons and Lords had been scheduled to contemplate the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) invoice on Monday.

The House of Lords — the place Mr. Sunak’s Conservative celebration doesn’t have a majority — had handed amendments final week to exempt Afghan asylum seekers who had helped British operations in Afghanistan and to ascertain an impartial physique to assessment Rwanda’s asylum system.

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Immigration is a extremely delicate problem within the U.Ok., which is transferring in the direction of a normal election within the second half of 2024. The preliminary plan to ship unlawful migrants to Rwanda was introduced by the Boris Johnson Government in 2022. The coverage has confronted quite a few authorized challenges, together with from the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) and no flights to Rwanda have taken off up to now.

The present model of the Rwanda invoice declares that Rwanda is a secure nation to ship asylum seekers — a clause designed to bypass a November 2023 U.Ok. Supreme Court ruling that mentioned the coverage (because it existed on the time) was illegal.

The deportation course of would kick off as quickly because the vote was over, Mr. Sunak mentioned, as he outlined a number of the preparations — from courtrooms to safety escorts and flight slots.

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“The first flight will leave in 10-12 weeks,” the Prime Minister mentioned, implying that the sooner declared spring deadline wouldn’t be met. He mentioned a number of flights would happen by way of the summer season (June-August) and past.

The Conservatives have centered on the position of individuals smuggling gangs as a part of their messaging across the deportation invoice and Mr. Sunak, on Monday, mentioned the gangs had been at present focusing on weak Vietnamese migrants, whose numbers had “increased tenfold” and who accounted for “almost all” the rise in migrant-carrying small boats arriving throughout the English Channel.

Mr. Sunak’s celebration has trailed the opposition Labour Party in polls for a while and stopping the boat crossings has been one of many Prime Minister’s pledges. On Monday, he accused Labour of not having a plan to stop boat crossings and was “resigned to the idea that you will never fully solve this problem”.

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