Over 20,000 migrants have tried to cross English Channel in small boats this year

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Over 20,000 migrants have tried to cross English Channel in small boats this year
Over 20,000 migrants have tried to cross English Channel in small boats this year

MORE than 20,000 migrants have been detected trying to cross the English Channel in small boats so far this year, new government figures show.

According to the Ministry of Defence 607 crossed on Saturday.

It takes the provisional total for the year to 20,017. By this point last year, just over 11,300 crossings had been made.

There were 28,526 crossings detected in the whole of 2021.

The surge has led to questions over the effectiveness of the UK Government’s policy to send some migrants to Rwanda.

Three months ago, Home Secretary Priti Patel signed what she described as a “world-first” agreement with the East African country, worth around £120 million.

Under the terms of the deal, Rwanda will receive migrants deemed by the UK to have arrived “illegally” and the Government in the Kigali will then process their applications for asylum.

However, the first deportation flight never took off after it was grounded at the eleventh hour after an interim ruling from the European court of human rights.

A high court hearing is scheduled for September to determine the lawfulness of the Rwanda policy.

If it is unlawful, the Government could ultimately forfeit the £120m.

Despite the lack of success, both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have promised to double down on the policy if they become the next prime minister.

There have been 3,618 crossings detected in August so far, with 1,694 in the past week, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The highest daily total for 2022 so far was recorded on August 1, when 696 people made the crossing in 14 boats.

Saturday’s 607 crossings also involved 14 boats – the equivalent of around 43 people per vessel.

The number of people reaching the UK in small boats from France after navigating busy shipping lanes has increased steadily in recent years.

Some 299 were 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 UK’s small boat arrivals are a fraction of the number of migrants heading to within the EU.

Data from the UN’s refugee agency shows at least 120,441 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea in 2021.

Both Labour and the SNP have called for the government to drop the Rwanda policy.

Last week, speaking at an event at the Edinburgh Fringe,  Sir Keir Starmer described it as “completely wrong.”

He claimed the Prime Minister “doesn’t even really want the policy to work. He wants the courts to stop him, so he can blame them.”

Last week, Ms Truss vowed to protect the Rwanda plan.

In an interview with GB News, she said: "What I would do if I’m elected as your prime minister is make the Rwanda policy work through the British Bill of Rights, ensuring that we can’t be overruled by the ECHR because we know that’s been a problem ... and that stopped the policy going ahead.

"So, I would make sure we legislate for Britain, that we are in control of our own policy, and we can’t be overwhelmed by the ECHR."

She added: "I would also work with other countries to get new deals to find new locations."