Refugee Channel crossings hit record high as crisis worsens

·3-min read
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

At least 828 people made the treacherous Channel crossing on small boats on Saturday - a record high for the current crisis.

The Home Office has spoken of preventing refugees and migrants from being trafficked into the UK but around 30 boats slipped into the south-east coastline on a single day at the weekend.

The arrivals tally smashed the previous daily record of 592 people set less than two weeks ago.

More than 12,400 people have now made the perilous crossing to the UK in 2021, data compiled by the PA news agency showed.

But the sea journey has claimed many lives, leading to outpourings of grief and repeated promises of action from governments on both sides of the Channel.

Earlier this month, a 27-year-old man from Eritrea died after he and four other people jumped overboard as their boat started to sink in the English Channel.

Bella Sankey, director for charity Detention Action, said the Home Office “needs to confront reality”.

“Refugees will continue to come to the UK, as they have for centuries, as long as there are despots, wars and persecution in this world,” she said.

“To end the use of small boats, MPs should create a humanitarian visa system for people in France who are travelling to the UK so they can arrive here in safety and with dignity to make their claims.”

Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said: “These dangerous crossings from safe EU countries are completely unnecessary and we are determined to take down the evil criminal gangs behind them.

“We’re working across Government as well as with French and international partners to tackle this issue.

“We have doubled the number of police officers on French beaches, prevented more than 10,000 attempts, secured nearly 300 arrests and 65 prosecutions.”

The latest data was revealed as a senior Home Office official said civil servants will “feel guilt and responsibility” forever over the death of a five-year-old Afghan boy who fell from a hotel window.

Mohammed Munib Majeedi fell from the window of the Sheffield Metropolitan Hotel in Blonk Street on August 18.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, director general of asylum and protection at the Home Office Emma Haddad said the boy’s family had “recently” been moved from Afghanistan by her team.

“We are all heartbroken. We have all been in tears,” Dr Haddad said.

But she also criticised some of the media coverage and a “desire to score political points” and defended her team’s work.

She wrote in The Telegraph: “Some of the media coverage of the death of the little boy has hurt my team a lot.

“It is totally misleading to suggest that the Home Office does not take our responsibilities towards children in our care seriously.

“And more than that – among the desire to score political points are dedicated civil servants who will feel guilt and responsibility for this tragic death forever. Many of us are also parents. We are not faceless bureaucrats with no empathy – the emotions are overwhelming us.”

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