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MIGRANT rights campaigners celebrated a victory today after the government’s “last resort” charter airline, hired to deport people to Rwanda, cut ties to the project.
Privilege Style said it will no longer operate flights to the east African country following an email campaign by torture survivors and refugee organisations.
The Spanish airline became the last option for the government’s deportation flights after other airlines refused.
In a letter to the charity Freedom from Torture (FT), Privilege Style said it “will not operate flights to Rwanda in the future” and that it has “never flown to Rwanda since the one flight scheduled for June 2022 (which is the reason for this controversy) was suspended.”
The pledge came after intensified protests by campaigners in recent weeks, including disruption of an aviation industry expo in Amsterdam by two Britain-based torture survivors and protests outside the company’s Mallorca headquarters last weekend.
FT survivor empowerment director Kolbassia Haoussou, a torture survivor from central Africa, called it a “victory for people power” and for those who stood up against the British government’s “cruel ‘cash for humans’” scheme.
“When I fled torture and persecution in central Africa, the UK gave me sanctuary and a chance to rebuild my life,” she said.
“It breaks my heart to see the government turning their back on people like me in their hour of need — and that private companies are profiting from their suffering.
“With Privilege Style pulling out, the wheels are coming off the government’s dodgy Rwanda deal.
“Whoever succeeds Liz Truss as prime minister should put an end to this inhumane plan once and for all.”
The call on Ms Truss’s successor was echoed by other campaigners.
Clare Moseley of Care4Calais praised FT’s victory, saying: “As charities and campaigners shine a light on the cruelty and brutality of the government’s Rwanda plan, it becomes increasingly toxic for any organisation with a semblance of morality to be associated with it.
“Whoever is our next prime minister, it is time they scrapped the Rwanda policy once and for all.”
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants communications director Ravishaan Rahel Muthiah said: “Today’s victory, as well as the court verdict this June, should offer us hope that the government’s anti-refugee agenda can be resisted and defeated — and the more of us who come together to fight it, the more likely we are to win.”
Bail for Immigration Detainees research and policy manager Rudy Schulkind called the victory a “seminal moment in the battle to defeat this cruel and inhumane policy.”
“What this shows is that through relentless campaigning from dedicated organisations as well as the broader public, the government’s hostile agenda can be defeated.
“This will breathe new life into the struggle for humane immigration policy.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the public-sector union hopes other airlines thinking of taking part in the “immoral and unlawful” deportation of asylum-seekers will also refuse to fly.
“It’s time for the Home Office to abandon its hostile approach to refugees and to work with us to build a humane system that allows our members to tell us its unworkable,” he said.
Last month, a detailed clinical review by the charity Medical Justice found that many asylum-seekers threatened with removal to Rwanda may have been tortured or trafficked into Britain.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We remain committed to our world-leading Migration Partnership with Rwanda, which will see those who come to the UK through dangerous, illegal and unnecessary routes relocated to Rwanda to rebuild their lives there.
“Rwanda is a safe and secure country with a strong track record of supporting asylum-seekers and we will continue to robustly defend the partnership in the courts.
“We do not comment on operational matters.”
Privilege Style declined to comment.
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