UK judge stops government flight to remove asylum seekers

UK judge stops government flight to remove asylum seekers
Migrants travel by inflatable boat as they reach the shore on the south east coast of England after crossing the Straits of Dover from France. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 September 2020

UK judge stops government flight to remove asylum seekers

UK judge stops government flight to remove asylum seekers
  • The judge has ordered the halting of the flight so that reception arrangements for asylum seekers sent to Spain from the UK could be investigated
  • British Home Secretary Priti Patel has pledged to remove 1,000 small boat arrivals before the end of the year

LONDON: A UK high court judge on Wednesday ordered the grounding of a government-chartered flight just hours before around 20 asylum seekers, who had crossed the English Channel into Britain, were due to be deported to Spain.
The asylum seekers had previously passed through Spain on route to the UK, and under EU regulations, one European country can return them to another if there is evidence in the form of fingerprints or other proof that the refugees had passed through that country.
Sir Duncan Ouseley halted the flight due to concerns that the asylum seekers may end up homeless on the streets of the Spanish capital Madrid, The Guardian reported.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel has pledged to remove 1,000 small boat arrivals before the end of the year when Britain leaves the EU completely. The high court decision not to deport them is a setback for the plan.
A legal challenge was launched last week on behalf of five of the asylum seekers who were due to be deported after The Guardian reported that 11 Syrian asylum seekers who arrived in Britain in small boats and were removed to Spain were not given the opportunity to claim asylum on arrival in the country where they had been fingerprinted previously.
Instead, they were abandoned in the streets and no provisions were made for food, water, or shelter in temperatures of 32 degrees, the newspaper said.
Counsel for the five asylum seekers, who came from Yemen and Syria, Chris Buttler, told the court that the refugees the government wanted to remove to Spain on Thursday were at risk of “indefinite street homelessness,” The Guardian reported.
Directions to deport two of the five asylum seekers who brought the legal challenge had been deferred due to their individual circumstances.
Medical reports said the five asylum seekers were either victims of torture or had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and were at risk of serious self-harm. The Yemeni had been shot in his home country and parts of his stomach had been removed.
Patel said: “We are bitterly disappointed with the court’s ruling, which has prevented us from returning people who have no right to be here. This case has not abated our determination, and we have more flights planned in the coming weeks and months.”
A counsel for Patel, Russell Fortt, told the court that the Home Office had made inquiries about reception arrangements for the asylum seekers with the Spanish authorities.
He said: “Assurances have now been requested and have been given. It is sufficient to ensure that on this occasion they (the Spanish authorities) have given the undertaking.”
Ouseley said he had ordered the halting of the charter flight so that a hearing could be arranged to investigate in more detail reception arrangements for asylum seekers sent to Spain from the UK.


150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave

150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave
Updated 55 min 49 sec ago

150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave

150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave
  • 90 migrants managing to cross from Morocco into Melilla at a point where the border fence crosses the Nano river
  • Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa

MADRID: Around 150 migrants stormed the border fence separating the Spanish enclave Melilla from Morocco early on Tuesday with nearly 90 managing to cross, officials said.
The incident took place just before dawn where the fence crosses the Nano river, a spokesman for the Spanish government’s local delegation said, indicating “87 of them” got across despite efforts to stop them by the Moroccan and Spanish security forces.
It was the biggest mass attempt to cross the border fence since August 20 when some 300 people stormed the fence, although only around 30 managed to get across and one died during the attempt.
During Tuesday’s incident, nine migrants were hurt while trying to get into the tiny Spanish territory, while the rest were being registered at the migrant reception center, he said.
Interior ministry figures show that in the first two weeks of the year, 60 migrants managed to illegally cross the fence into Melilla while another 70 managed to cross into Ceuta, Spain’s other North African enclave.
Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.
They are favored entry points for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe, who get there by either climbing over the border fence or by swimming along the coast.
The border crossings between Morocco and both enclaves have been closed since the start of the pandemic last March.