At least 28,300 migrants made the journey from France to the UK via the English Channel in 2021, three times the number in 2020, according to new data.
PA Media – formerly known as the Press Association – released the figures on Tuesday based on figures from Britain’s Home Office.
The data also showed that the average number of people per migrant boat has more than doubled over the past year, with around 28 people per boat in 2021, up from around 13.
November proved to be the busiest month for Channel crossings, with 6,869 people making the trip. On November 11 alone, 1,185 people crossed in 33 boats.
However, the boats are often not structurally sound, and some have not been able to hold the entire crossing, which stretches for around 20 miles at its narrowest point, the Strait of Dover. On November 24, 27 people drowned when a migrant boat lost air and sank.
Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action, said the UK government needed to change its immigration system to help prevent further tragedies.
“People will continue to cross the Channel in flimsy boats and smugglers will continue to profit from them unless ministers open up more avenues for refugees to seek asylum here,” he said. .
Arrivals continued on Tuesday, with a group of people, mostly men but also a young child dressed in a one-piece pink jumpsuit, rescued by a British lifeboat and brought to Dover on the south coast of the ‘England.
Clare Moseley, founder of the charity Care4Calais which supports refugees living in northern France, agrees with Naor Hilton.
“If the government really wanted to stop the smugglers, it would create a safe way for people to seek asylum and put the smugglers out of business once and for all,” she said.
But Home Secretary Tom Pursglove said ‘seeking asylum for protection should not involve people shopping for asylum from one country to another, or risking their lives lining the pockets criminal gangs to cross the English Channel“.
He said the government’s planned reforms to immigration law will criminalize unauthorized entry into the UK and introduce life sentences for people smugglers, as well as boosting the powers of the country’s border force to stop and redirect boats and pave the way for asylum seekers to have their claims processed outside the UK
When the reforms were presented to parliament in July, Naor Hilton said they were “built on a profound lack of understanding of the reality of refugee migration”.
The Associated Press contributed to this report