The number of asylum seekers due to be removed from the UK on the first deportation flight to Rwanda is close to single figures after virtually every migrant raised a legal challenge.
The Court of Appeal is set to decide later whether to allow the Home Office flight to depart tomorrow.
Campaigners and migrants last week failed to win an injunction against the government policy in the High Court but it is thought the 130 people originally facing being deported to Rwanda’s capital Kigali is falling rapidly due to the number of appeals.
A Home Office source said that of the original 37 scheduled to fly to the east African nation, legal challenges relating to modern slavery and human rights claims have reduced that number to a mere handful.
Experts fear that number could be “whittled down to zero” before the plane is due to take off.
The Rwanda policy has been criticised by charities, religious leaders, opposition parties
The appeal to the Home Office’s policy has been brought by Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who represent 80% of Border Force staff, along with the charities Care4Calais and Detention Action.
A separate case is also due to be heard in the High Court todayy, after another refugee charity, Asylum Aid, applied for an urgent interim injunction against the flights to the east African nation.
The UK says sending some asylum seekers who arrive illegally in the UK to Rwanda will deter arrivals, and therefore undermine smuggling gangs.
The Rwanda policy has been widely criticised by charities, religious leaders, opposition parties, but none of the critics have come up with a better plan to stop the migrants arriving in droves on the Kent coast.
Home Secretary Priti Patel says the “vast majority” of those who arrive via illegal routes – such as unauthorised boats and stowing away in lorries – will be considered for relocation to Rwanda.
Really looks like the deterrent is going well!