The UK government has issued letters to 50 people informing them of their forthcoming deportation to Rwanda, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet of “destroying lives”.
The controversial scheme to give asylum seekers in Britain a one-way ticket to the east African country was announced last month.
Johnson defended the measure as an effort to tackle “people-smuggling gangs” in the English Channel, and said he expects to be challenged by “leftie lawyers”.
British refugee charities have condemned the plan as “cruel” and “inhumane”.
Despite fierce moral objections and impending legal challenges, the UK government is pressing ahead with the scheme.
“Forcibly removing people to Rwanda is incredibly dangerous,” wrote MSF in a statement released on Tuesday.
“When governments persecute vulnerable people in this cruel way, depriving them of their families, loved ones and support networks, with no freedom of choice, freedom of movement, or hope, it destroyed lives,” the NGO said.
It is not clear who received the letters. When the deportation plan was first announced, the BBC reported that its pilot scheme would focus on single men.
The individuals have 14 days to appeal their deportation.
MSF warned that the scheme would have a devastating impact on mental health, based on their work with asylum seekers forcibly removed from Australia to detention centres on Nauru island.
Of the people they treated, 60 percent said they had suicidal thoughts, while 30 percent had attempted suicide. The organisation found that children as young as nine had suicidal thoughts.
Freedom From Torture, who are campaigning against the deportations, previously told The New Arab: "Most people in this country want the UK to help people fleeing torture, war and persecution, but this neo-colonial scheme instead pushes our responsibility for protecting them onto a developing country in exchange for cash.
“It is immoral, unworkable and flies in the face of our international legal duties, which is why we are preparing a legal challenge to the policy.”