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UK begins detaining migrants set to be deported to Rwanda

A tent is seen on a street of Dublin Ireland on Apr. 29, 2024.   -  
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United Kingdom

British authorities have started detaining migrants as part of preparations to relocate them to Rwanda within the next nine to 11 weeks. The government announced on Wednesday (May. 1st), marking a significant step in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's immigration strategy.

Officers were seen entering homes and bringing out people in handcuffs, who were put in the back of secure vans in an undisclosed location.

According to the government, "operational teams within the Home Office have been working at pace to safely and swiftly detain individuals in scope for relocation to Rwanda, with more activity due to be carried out in the coming weeks".

Reports from Care4Calais, a refugee charity, confirm that detentions commenced on Monday (Apr. 29), with numerous individuals reaching out to their helpline expressing concerns. Details regarding who will be selected for the initial deportation flight and its timing remain undisclosed.

Photographs shared by the UK's interior ministry on Wednesday depict individuals being detained by immigration enforcement officials.

"Our dedicated enforcement teams are working diligently to promptly apprehend those without lawful status so that we can expedite the departure of flights," remarked Interior Minister James Cleverly in a Wednesday statement.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged that the first deportation flights will leave UK by early July.

He has staked the future of the Conservative party on that bill. General elections will be held in the nation no later than on January 28th next year. 

In April, Parliament endorsed legislation to facilitate the transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda if they entered Britain without authorization. Sunak aims for the inaugural flights to depart in July.

With over 7,500 migrants having arrived in England via small boats from France this year, the government asserts that this policy will dissuade individuals from undertaking perilous journeys across the Channel. Tragically, five people lost their lives attempting the crossing last week.

Opposition to the policy from human rights organizations and unions is anticipated, with expectations of renewed legal challenges to prevent the flights from proceeding, especially following the UK Supreme Court's ruling last year declaring the policy unlawful.

Photographs shared by the UK's interior ministry on Wednesday depict individuals being detained by immigration enforcement officials, underscoring the swift implementation of these measures.

Natasha Tsangarides, Associate Director of Advocacy at Freedom from Torture, highlighted the widespread fear among migrants, suggesting that apprehensions about detention and relocation to Rwanda may drive some individuals to evade authorities and sever ties with support networks.

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