Migrant crossings: Number reaching UK this year three times 2020’s totalon November 22, 2021 at 12:21 pm

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More than 25,000 people have reached the UK by boat this year, including nearly 900 on Saturday.

People arriving on a small boat

Image source, Getty Images

The number of migrants to have reached the UK by boat this year is now more than three times the 2020 total.

The Home Office said 886 people arrived on Saturday, bringing the 2021 total to more than 25,700. The figure for last year was 8,469.

More than 1,000 migrants arrived in one day earlier this month, a new record.

The Home Office said there was a “global migration crisis” and the number of illegal migrants departing France was “unacceptable”.

A spokesperson said: “The British public have had enough of seeing people die in the Channel while ruthless criminal gangs profit from their misery and our new plan for immigration will fix the broken system which encourages migrants to make this lethal journey.”

The government’s plan would change the law so that people facilitating Channel crossings would face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The proposed changes to immigration, being considered by MPs, would see people seeking protection as refugees having their asylum claim partly assessed on how they arrived in the UK. People arriving by what the government calls illegal means would no longer have the same entitlement to claim asylum.

On Saturday, there were 28 separate events, leading to the 886 people either being rescued or intercepted. That same day, French authorities intervened 14 times, preventing 466 people reaching the UK.

A review into how to prevent migrants crossing the English Channel to reach the UK is going to be led by Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay, after Home Secretary Priti Patel promised tougher action.

Mr Barclay will explore what ministerial departments can do to make the issue more of a priority in government. The prime minister is understood to think more action is needed.

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Map showing search and rescue areas
  • If migrants are found in UK national waters, it is likely they will be brought to a British port
  • If they are in international waters, the UK will work with French authorities to decide where to take them
  • Each country has search-and-rescue zones
  • An EU law called Dublin III allows asylum seekers to be transferred back to the first member state they were proven to have entered but the UK is no longer part of this arrangement and has not agreed a new scheme to replace it
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In an agreement signed in July, the UK pledged to give France €62.7m (£54m) during 2021-22 to help tackle the issue.

The deal said the UK would help France increase police patrols along its coastline, boost aerial surveillance and increase security infrastructure at ports but record numbers of people have continued to arrive.

The record for one day’s crossings was on 11 November, when 1,185 reached the UK.

The people who cross the Channel come to the UK from the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the world – including Yemen, Eritrea, Chad, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq.

Under international law, people have the right to seek asylum in whichever country they arrive, and there is nothing to say you must seek asylum in the first safe country. It is very hard to apply to the UK for asylum unless you are already in the country.

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