Afghanistan deportation flight grounded by Court of Appeal

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a bomb blast in Kandahar Image copyright EPA
Image caption Lawyers successfully argued Afghanistan was no longer safe for deportation

A chartered flight to return 59 asylum seekers to Afghanistan had to be aborted after a last-minute Court of Appeal order blocked their deportation.

The Home Office flight was cancelled on Tuesday night after lawyers for some of the men successfully argued the country was no longer safe.

The men would be at risk of "serious harm" if forcibly deported, they said.

Toufique Hossain, a lawyer in the case, said Home Office deportation policies for Afghanistan were now "untenable".

The BBC understands some of the men had planned to board the flight voluntarily - but the flight still had to be cancelled because there were too few men willing to return.

'Levels of violence'

In another hearing - held at the upper chamber of the Immigration and Asylum Court - lawyers for the men argued that they could not be "reasonably or safely" reintegrated back into Afghan society.

The security situation in parts of Afghanistan - even in the capital Kabul - had deteriorated to such an extent it would be unlawful to return the men against their will, they said.

Many provinces - including Helmand and Kandahar - had seen "dramatic increases in levels of violence", lawyers added.

The lawyers cited one case where a 22-year-old man who had lived in the UK since he was 14 was due to deported despite his poor mental health and being a known suicide risk.

The Home Office said it was unable to comment on the ruling due to election campaign rules.

The case was adjourned until 8 May.

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