Britain's first flight to take asylum seekers to Rwanda was pulled at the eleventh hour on Tuesday after the European Court of Human Rights issued injunctions to stop the deportation of the handful of migrants on board, a government source said.
The British government's plan to send some migrants to the East African country has been criticized by opponents, charities, and religious leaders who say it is inhumane.
London argues that deporting migrants who arrived illegally by crossing the English Channel in small boats from Europe would deter the dangerous journeys and smash the business model of people-smuggling networks.
In the last few days at least 30 individuals scheduled to be on the first flight successfully argued that they should not be deported to Rwanda on health or human rights grounds.
Just a handful were due to fly from an air force base in southwest England on Tuesday but, hours before the plane was due to leave, the European court which rules on possible human rights violations granted injunctions to prevent their deportations.
“Last ticket cancelled. NO ONE IS GOING TO RWANDA,” the charity Care4Calais, which has launched legal action on behalf of a number of the migrants, said on Twitter.