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Migrant Deaths Reported in English Channel as UK Pushes Ahead with Rwanda Asylum Plan

  • Posted on April 23, 2024
  • News

The UK approved an asylum plan to deport migrants to Rwanda amid reports of migrant deaths in the English Channel. Legal challenges are expected against the controversial policy, which PM Sunak vows will deter dangerous crossings.


London - At least five migrants are reported to have died attempting the perilous journey across the English Channel on Monday, just hours after the UK Parliament approved a controversial policy to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. 

The French coast guard could not confirm details, but said there were "lifeless bodies" in the water as desperate migrants continue to risk their lives to reach Britain. Tens of thousands from war-torn countries and impoverished regions have made the dangerous crossing in small boats organized by smuggling gangs over recent years.

The grim incident underscores the urgency driving Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's efforts to deter migrants with the Rwanda deportation plan. "Our focus is to now get flights off the ground, and I am clear that nothing will stand in our way of doing that and saving lives," Sunak vowed.

Once the new law takes effect this week, the UK can begin detaining asylum seekers for removal to Rwanda. However, legal challenges are expected from charities, campaigners and unions who argue the African nation is not a safe destination given concerns over its human rights record.

"They can be assured that Care4Calais will not only stand in solidarity with them, we are absolutely committed to fighting for their safety here in the UK," said the charity's head Steve Smith, seeking to reassure migrants.

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The UK Supreme Court had previously ruled the Rwanda policy unlawful, but the new legislation aims to override that by disallowing some UK human rights laws from applying and mandating Rwanda be treated as safe.

Sunak claims flights could begin in 10-12 weeks, with airfields, staff and legal proceedings at the ready. Critics condemn the plan as inhumane, but the Prime Minister insists it will undermine criminal smuggling gangs and prevent more deaths at sea.

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