Fewer people have swam the English Channel than have climbed Mount Everest. The Strait of Dover – 21 miles across at its narrowest – hosts the world’s busiest shipping lane. The waters are rough and in November, absolutely freezing.
No one makes the journey on a scarcely sea-worthy inflatable dinghy unless they are desperate. Yesterday, 27 people lost their lives taking that risk. More attempted to cross today.
Britain is hardly alone in facing what is sometimes called a ‘migrant crisis’. But in European terms, the UK is at the end of the line and is furthermore separated by a body of water.
Look to Turkey, which hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees and nearly 320,000 ‘people of concern’ from other nations, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Columbia hosts 1.7m refugees, Uganda 1.5m, Pakistan 1.4m, and Germany 1.4m. What these countries have in common, apart from Germany, is proximity to conflict, internal displacement and extreme poverty.
Turkey borders Syria (6.8m refugees), Columbia borders Venezuela (4.1m displaced abroad), Uganda borders South Sudan (2.2m) and Pakistan borders Afghanistan (2.5m).
The number of migrants reaching the UK by boat may have tripled on last year, but at roughly 25,000, it suggests that Britain is not quite on the front line of the global movement of people.
One final thought. It is projected that each additional degree of climate warming (we’re already at 1.1C above pre-industrial averages) could generate an additional one billion migrants – that is people forced to abandon lands that are underwater or simply too hot to support human life.
The issue of people looking for somewhere else to live, feeling they have little to lose, and the secondary impact that has on recipient nations, is not going away.
Elsewhere in the paper, from 2am phone calls to rape threats and lewd photos, our special investigation reveals the vile tide of misogyny and abuse against female councillors just for doing their jobs.
In the comment pages, Rupert Harrison writes that if London wants to remain a global capital in the age of levelling up it should start taking control of its own future.
Meanwhile, a baby? In Parliament? Quick! Assume the culture war position! If it takes a village to raise a child, then babies belong in Westminster, I say.
And finally, apparently there’s more to sparkling wine than Tesco Finest Prosecco. From breakfast moscato to Lady Gaga’s champagne, Douglas Blyde picks his top bottles to keep December topped up.
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