By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) — A group of asylum-seekers asked a U.K. court on Friday to stop the British government sending them on a one-way flight to Rwanda.
Four people, backed by refugee groups and a U.K. border staff trade union, are asking a judge to ground a flight scheduled for Tuesday, the first due to leave under a controversial deal between the U.K. and the east African country.
The four are among an unspecified number of migrants who have been told by the British government that they will be deported to Rwanda. Refugee groups say the wider group includes people fleeing Syria and Afghanistan who arrived in Britain across the English Channel on small boats.
As the hearing opened at the High Court in London, the government disclosed that it had canceled the deportation orders for three of the four people bringing the case. But it said it still intended to fight attempts to ground the flight.
Under a deal announced in April, Britain plans to send migrants who arrive in the U.K. as stowaways or in small boats on a one-way trip to Rwanda. There, the migrants’ asylum claims will be processed, and if successful, they will stay in the country.
U.N. officials say such a move violates the international Refugee Convention, and human rights groups call the deal — for which the U.K. has paid Rwanda 120 million pounds ($158 million) upfront — unworkable, inhumane and a waste of British taxpayers’ money.
James Wilson of Detention Action, one of the groups involved in the case, said the government was “turning a blind eye to the many clear dangers and human rights violations that (the policy) would inflict on people seeking asylum.”
The British government is seeking to distinguish between refugees who arrive by authorized routes, such as programs to help people fleeing Afghanistan or Ukraine, and those it says arrive by illegal means, including dangerous Channel crossings run by people smugglers.
More than 28,000 migrants entered the U.K. across the Channel last year, up from 8,500 in 2020. Dozens have died, including 27 people in November when a single boat capsized.
Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.