Britain has been hit by a wave of migrants making the perilous journey across the English Channel, leading to calls for further government action to tackle the crisis.
These calls intensified after at least 27 migrants died crossing the English Channel Wednesday.
UK Home Office figures suggest a record number of more than 25,000 migrants have attempted the crossing so far this year, although French authorities believe the figure is closer to 31,000, including 7,800 rescued at sea.
The monthly number of crossings in 2021 rose steadily until September, when it reached 4,653. The trend reversed in October when only 2,669 made the crossing, but the November figure has already reached 6,665. This includes two daily records, the latest being set on November 12 when 1,185 people made the crossing in a single day, the first time the official number exceeded 1,000.
Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted the UK government was working on a long-term plan to address the concerns and said the situation “would take time to sort itself out”.
“The only solution is a thorough reform of our asylum system,” she said.
Here are some of the questions surrounding the issue:
What countries do migrants come from?
Most small boats leave from the northern coast of France near Calais and Dunkirk, but the stretch of coastline used extends.
Those recorded attempting the crossing come from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kuwait, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Guinea, Mali, Chad, Somalia, Niger, Libya. and Albania.
Why do migrants come to the UK?
Some are fleeing countries torn by war and forced military service, while others have been persecuted for their beliefs or sexuality in their home countries.
Many pursue what they perceive as a better life and feel a connection to Britain, whether through knowledge of the English language and culture or because they have family and friends in the UK. United.
Why don’t migrants stay in France?
Migrants living in Calais often have to sleep in fields and scrubland and have faced frequent police evictions in the five years since the destruction of the “Jungle” camp.
It is often heard in the immigration debate that people should seek refuge in the “first safe country” they arrive in – but this is incorrect as there is no such requirement under the UN Convention on refugees.
How do migrants cross and how dangerous is it?
With a limited number of safe and legal routes available, people gathered on the northern coast of France may feel compelled to resort to dangerous methods to reach the UK.
Many used to hide in the back of trucks, but there has been a surge in small boat crossings in recent years.
Crossing the busy English Channel sea lanes by dinghy is fraught with pitfalls and the journey has claimed several lives in recent years, including children.
How do Channel crossings compare to last year?
More than 25,600 people have reached Britain in small boats this year, according to data compiled by PA.
That’s more than triple the 8,417 PA recorded in 2020.
What UK resources are available in the channel?
Border Force has a limited number of cutters and patrol boats – the ships it uses to intercept boats and bring people ashore.
When a wave of crossings occurs, Border Force, RNLI and Coastguard teams can be overwhelmed and cannot deal with all incidents at once.
Can the UK Border Force turn people back in the English Channel?
Pushbacks of small boats in the English Channel are difficult and their legality is disputed.
Charities fear seeking to hijack the boats while they are on the water could endanger lives and the Home Office has not confirmed when or if the tactic will be put into practice.
What happens when people reach UK waters?
A large proportion – perhaps the vast majority – of boats are intercepted by Border Force or the RNLI once they reach UK waters, while some land on beaches.
Contrary to some reports, the vast majority (98% for January-September 2020) of people reaching the UK in small boats are seeking asylum, rather than seeking to ‘disappear’.
The asylum process can be long, with months or years of waiting before a decision is made.
How does the number of arrivals in the UK compare to the rest of Europe? Are asylum applications increasing?
The UK continues to see fewer arriving boats and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.
At least 105,135 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Asylum applications in the UK have remained stable in recent years despite an increase in small boat arrivals, with 14,670 applications made in the first six months of 2021, compared to 13,370 in the same period of 2020 and 16,619 in 2019.
What does the UK government say about level crossings?
In 2019, Priti Patel promised to make migrant crossings an “infrequent phenomenon” by the spring of 2020, then pledged last August to “make this route unviable”.
The government says its new immigration plan will “fix the system”, but its Citizenship and Borders Bill has been criticized by charities.
What are charities saying on the matter?
Humanitarian organizations have long called on the government to create more legal and secure pathways for people to seek asylum in Britain.
Under current law, people can only seek asylum in the UK if they are physically present in the country, which some fear could encourage attempts at dangerous travel.
Updated: November 25, 2021, 1:58 p.m.