At least ‘350 migrants cross Channel in two days’

·2-min read
Royal Navy HMS Blazer tows two small boats as it arrives in Dover, Kent.   (PA Wire)
Royal Navy HMS Blazer tows two small boats as it arrives in Dover, Kent. (PA Wire)

At least 350 migrants are believed to have crossed the English Channel in the past two days.

It follows an eleven-day stretch between April 20 to 30 where no crossings were recorded amid reports of strong winds and choppy seas.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it found seven boats carrying 254 migrants on Sunday.

Official figures for Monday are due to be published on Tuesday but witnesses have told the BBC that more than 100 migrants have been brought ashore.

There had been speculation that the Government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda had deterred people from crossing the channel.

However, refugee charities have said the sudden spike on Monday and Sunday is proof that the policy has failed to stop people from making the perilous journey.

The Rwanda deal will see the east African nation receive asylum seekers deemed by the UK to be inadmissible, having arrived “illegally” under new immigration rules.

Care4Calais said that of the 64 people it surveyed, 87 per cent had heard of the plan and 75 per cent said “it won’t put them off crossing to the UK”.

In a Twitter post, the organisation said: “They have no choice: they’ve fled danger made long, dangerous journeys, and France ‘does not give you security’, as one said.”

The charity branded the Rwanda deal – which Home Secretary Priti Patel has described as a “world-first” agreement – as “just another in a long line of deterrence policies announced by this Government over the last few years”.

Care4Calais said: “Refugees have escaped from the worst horrors in this world. When you’re risking your life, what else do you have to lose? When someone explains ‘even death wouldn’t stop me’ trying to get to the UK, it’s clear that even the threat of Rwanda won’t change anything.”

Enver Solomon, chief executive of Refugee Council, said the resumption of crossings at the weekend showed that “draconian policies enshrined in the Nationality and Borders Bill and their (the Government’s) Rwanda deal are doing little to deter desperate people jumping on boats because they do nothing to address the reasons people come”.

He called on the UK to have a “grown-up conversation with France and the EU about sharing responsibility”.

He said: “We need a fair and humane asylum system, with means well thought-out, long-term solutions that address why people are forced from their homes, and provides them with safe routes to the UK.”

At least 6,947 people have reached the UK since the start of the year after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats.

This is three times greater than the amount recorded the same time last year (2,004) and over six times the figure for the same period in 2020 (1,006).

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