1st migrant deportation flights to Rwanda to take off ‘within weeks’

Britain’s health secretary said that the first flights carrying migrants to Rwanda will take off “within weeks” while not disclosing whether the government had found a carrier.

Victoria Atkins said they want flights carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda from Britain to take off “as quickly as possible.”

“We very much plan to have it within weeks” she said during an interview with Sky News.

Asked whether the government has found an airline to carry out the flights amid reports that Rwanda’s airline would not do so, she replied: “The Home Office is working on this…believe you me, the Home Office is ready to go.”

“We have seen some real progress in the last year with the reduction in small boat crossings by a third, which is contrary actually to the trend we’ve seen across the European continent,” she added.

Atkins said the Rwanda plan is just “one part of our overall plan to cut illegal migration .”

According to reports last week, RwandAir rejected the government’s request late last year after being approached about running the flights.

Relocating asylum seekers

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Rwandan President Paul Kagame met in London on April 9 and said they were looking forward to the first flights departing in the spring.

Although his flagship Rwanda plan suffered a series of legal challenges, Sunak seeks to relocate asylum seekers who arrive in the UK via small boats each year to the East African country.

The Rwanda plan had been one of the most controversial plans of the government’s migration policy as it sparked international criticism and mass protests across the UK.

In January last year, Sunak said that tackling small boat crossings by irregular migrants across the English Channel was among five priorities of his government as more than 45,000 migrants arrived in the UK that way in 2022.



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