UK’s Rishi Sunak refuses to disclose when first flight will deport asylum seekers to Rwanda

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 11 April 2024 at 08:43

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, continues to remain tight-lipped about when the plane to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda will take off.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Sunak refused to name the date when the first flight will take illegal immigrants seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda.

He had earlier pledged to get flights off the ground in the spring, a period that runs from March to July in the UK.

The prime minister, however, expressed his confidence that the policy originally introduced by Boris Johnson would succeed despite facing strong opposition from rival parties.

"We need to get the bill through parliament first... but I am confident that once the bill is passed, we will be able to get this scheme up and running,” Sunak stated.

Rwanda and the UK signed the Migration and Economic Development Partnership in April 2022.

Officials said the migrants caught trying to enter UK territory illegally by boat or hiding in vehicles would be sent to Rwanda.

The scheme faced headwinds last November after the UK Supreme Court ruled that it was unlawful.

This forced the government to amend the legislation, including a new treaty and stating in law that Rwanda is a safe country.

MPs are expected to vote on those amendments when they return to parliament next week.

In his interview with the media, Sunak assured that President Paul Kagame’s visit to the UK early this week, was part of ongoing efforts to ensure the scheme kicks off.

“I just saw the president of Rwanda in Downing Street this week and they are absolutely committed to delivering on our partnership and I am confident that they have got all the preparation in place to do so,” he stated.

"Look, I am committed to stopping the boats. We need to have a deterrent so that if people come here illegally they can’t stay, they will be removed. That’s why Rwanda is so important. I am determined to see it through."

He faulted the Labour Party for the delays in the implementation of the programme.

"First of all we need to get it through parliament, where the Labour Party has been blocking it for a long time.

"Once it is up and running I am confident we will be able to operationalise the scheme [and] get people on flights because that’s how we set up a deterrent and ultimately end the unfairness of people jumping the queue, coming here illegally, putting pressure on local services and risking their own lives,” he stated.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak.