Channel crossings to the UK top 25,000 so far this year

More than 25,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year, government figures show.

A total of 915 people were detected on Saturday in 19 small boats, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, taking the provisional total for the year to 25,146.

There have been 8,747 crossings in August so far, including 3,733 in the past week, analysis shows.

The highest daily total on record came last Monday, 22 August, with 1,295 people crossing in 27 boats.

It has been more than four months since the home secretary, Priti Patel, unveiled plans to send refugees to Rwanda to try to deter people from crossing the Channel. Since then, 19,878 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey.

On 14 April, Patel signed what she described as a “world-first” agreement with Rwanda under which the east African nation would receive refugees deemed by the UK to have arrived illegally and therefore inadmissible under new immigration rules.

However, the first deportation flight, due to take off on 14 June, was grounded amid legal challenges.

Several asylum seekers, the Public and Commercial Services union and charities Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid are challenging the legality of the Home Office policy, with the next court hearings due in September and October.

The number of people reaching the UK in small boats from France after navigating busy shipping lanes has increased steadily in recent years. There were 299 detected in 2018, followed by 1,843 in 2019, 8,466 in 2020 and 28,526 last year, official figures show.

Despite the growing numbers, the small boat arrivals are a fraction of the number of people heading tomainland Europe. Data from the UN’s refugee agency shows at least 120,441 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea last year.

The Guardian