Gambia: No Gambian Among the First UK-Rwanda Deportation Flight

The Point can now confirm that there is no Gambian national among the first deportation flight from the UK to Rwanda following unsuccessful bid by lawyers and other representatives to block the aircraft that was supposed to transport asylum seekers to Kigali. They crossed into Britain from France via the English Channel.

Following several reports suggesting that it was “highly likely” that the asylum seekers would be transferred to Rwanda, this correspondent forwarded letters to several charities and legal representatives inquiring whether any Gambian national was involved.

Finally, it is now confirmed that “so far, there is no Gambian national involved or listed to board the first flight to Rwanda… “

It is important to note that all this comes against the backdrop of a vigorous legal and diplomatic efforts preventing the first flight from carrying asylum seekers. It was challenged and tested via an injunction in the Court of Appeals. However, the panel of three justices unanimously refused the request, thus allowing the flight to go ahead.

Lord Reed, the Court’s President outlined that there was “an assurance that if the government’s policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda was found to be unlawful… steps would be taken to bring back any migrants flown… “

Furthermore, Judge Rabinder Singh equally noted that the “Appeals Court could not interfere with a prior High Court ruling that was clear and detailed”.

But one of the most devastating and demoralizing blows to the lawyers representing the asylum seekers was the refusal by the judges to even grant permission for further appeal even though it involved multiple legal challenges.

Notwithstanding, despite the relentless criticisms from both home and abroad against the decision, the government maintained that “it will break people traffickers’ business models”. The government also disclosed that “… People who are not in the first flight will be on subsequent flights… “

However, immediately after the decision, the leaders of the Church of England described it as “immoral”

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is also “furious and fuming”. It issued a statement, saying “it is all wrong… and sets a catastrophic precedent”.

A Gambian refugee who recently told The Point that he was formally contacted “to get ready to be sent to Rwanda” said: “Thank God I am still around… As far as my case is concerned, a final decision is yet to be concluded… Unfortunately, there are people who are very scared and nervous… I must thank you for your concern… “

Alhagie Mbye, the Point’s Europe Correspondent