Johnson defends Rwanda asylum policy with first flight set to leave

London, Jun 14 (EFE).- British prime minister Boris Johnson Tuesday defended his government’s plan to deport newly arrived asylum seekers to processing centers in Rwanda and said his government would not be “deterred or abashed” over its controversial migration policy.

“We are not going to be in any way deterred or abashed by some of the criticism that is being directed upon this policy — some of it from slightly unexpected quarters,” the United Kingdom’s prime minister said.

The Conservative Party leader said that deporting newly arrived asylum seekers — initially single men — so that their paperwork can be processed in Rwanda was the only way to combat the surge in criminal gangs that organize illegal sea crossings from France to England.

Johnson’s statement came ahead of the first flight, which is due to take off Tuesday evening for the African nation, although the number of migrants to be deported remains unknown due to several ongoing legal challenges.

“The objective is to ensure that we make that clear distinction, that I think everybody can see is fair and reasonable, between legal immigration to this country by safe and legal routes, which we support and uphold and protect because we all understand the benefits that it brings, and distinguishing that from dangerous and illegal cross-Channel migration which we intend to stop,” Johnson told lawmakers.

The British government has said that the plane would depart no matter how many migrants were on board so as to establish a course of action to tackle the criminal activity of human traffickers.

On Monday the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by two NGOs to veto the flight and upheld a High Court ruling that it could go ahead.

The Rwanda policy has sparked fury among opposition leaders and other high-profile figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who published a damning piece in The Times newspaper.

According to media reports from The Times and Daily Mail, Prince Charles has also privately criticized Johnson’s Rwanda policy. EFE


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