CAMPAIGNERS have formally launched their court bid to stop the Government’s controversial plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Care4Calais and Detention Action have issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court, challenging what they describe as an “unlawful policy” by Home Secretary Priti Patel to remove asylum seekers to the east African nation.

The first flight from the UK containing migrants is expected to leave next Tuesday, but lawyers for more than 90 migrants have already submitted legal challenges asking to stay in the UK.

Home Office officials are thought to be anticipating that the remaining 38 or so notified to be on the June 14 flight will follow suit this week.

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James Wilson, deputy director of Detention Action, said: “In her desire to punish people for seeking asylum by forcing them onto a plane to Rwanda, Priti Patel has overstepped her authority. By rushing through what we say is an unlawful policy, she is turning a blind eye to the many clear dangers and human rights violations that it would inflict on people seeking asylum.”

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said the vast majority of the 100 or so people being detained pending their removal to Rwanda that lawyers have spoken to are “overwhelmed by total shock and despair”.

A Syrian refugee due to be sent to Rwanda after fleeing war in his homeland to come to the UK for a better life has said he feels he is being “punished for a crime I didn’t do”.

Amar – not his real name – said he wanted to come to the UK to be with relatives after the civil war broke out in 2011.

He paid smugglers to get him out of Africa and into Europe, but was taken to a detention centre upon his recent arrival in the UK.

The man is among those asylum seekers notified to be on the first Government flight out of the UK for Rwanda next week.

Amar said: “You know I lived for a long time in the war, and I also faced a very dangerous journey.

“That all affected my mental health, and when I read the letter (from the Home Office about the Rwanda flight) it made me feel anxious and depressed. I would rather kill myself than put myself on that plane.

“All I asked for is a chance for a life. That’s all – a chance to have a life.”

He is one of more than 90 migrants to have lawyers submit legal challenges to the High Court asking to stay in the UK.

He said: “It’s a punishment for a crime, but I know I didn’t commit any crime.

“I’d like to ask the Government what crime they think I committed to be sent there.”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union which represents the majority of Border Force staff, said:”PCS is not prepared to countenance our members being put in potentially dangerous and traumatic situations, where they may be asked to act illegally.”

Channel crossings resumed on Tuesday after a three-day hiatus, with 79 people arriving in Dover, Kent, according to Ministry of Defence data.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Our world-leading partnership with Rwanda is a key part of our strategy to overhaul the broken asylum system.

“We have been clear from the start that we expected legal challenges however we are determined to deliver this new partnership.

“We have now issued formal directions to the first group of people due to be relocated to Rwanda later this month. This marks a critical step towards operationalising the policy, which fully complies with international and national law.”