Why do migrants cross the Channel?

Boris Johnson announced that asylum seekers would be sent 4,000 miles to Rwanda for processing

The UK has announced plans to send asylum seekers attempting to cross the English Channel by boat 4,000 miles to Rwanda for processing.

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But why are these people trying to reach the UK?

The main reasons migrants cross the Channel to the UK are family ties and security (Image: Getty Images)

Who are migrants?

Meanwhile, an “immigrant” is someone who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

These two terms encompass groups of people who leave their country of origin for particular reasons.

One of these groups is that of asylum seekers.

The journey across the English Channel is extremely dangerous for migrants (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

These are people who apply for international protection but whose application has not yet been definitively decided by the country in which they wish to enter.

Not all asylum seekers are ultimately recognized as refugees, but every refugee was initially an asylum seeker.

A refugee is a person who has fled their country of origin because of a “well-founded fear of being persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinions”, according to international law.

There are also other reasons for migration.

For example, a migrant may move for economic reasons, due to climate change or due to a natural disaster.

How many migrants arrive in the UK?

On the population of the UK – which is around 67 million people – data from the Office for National Statistics indicates that UK net migration was 313,000 in the year to March 2020 (latest figures available).

Net migration is the number more/less people there are in a country due to immigration and emigration.

The figure of 313,000 is down from the previous all-time high of 331,000 – recorded in the year to March 2015 – but a slight increase from 2019.

Legal pathways for migrants to the UK have diminished due to Covid-19 (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

There were 37,235 applications from asylum seekers in the 12 months to June 2021, down 4% from the previous year.

There are no official figures on how many people have emigrated to the UK illegally.

But the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates there could be between 600,000 and 1.2 million people who have.

Meanwhile, official figures for the number of people who tried to get to the UK by boat were over 28,500 in 2021.

The UK and Rwanda have signed a deal that will see people trying to cross the English Channel sent to the African country for processing (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

This is a sharp increase from 2020, when 8,420 people attempted to cross, and 2019, when 1,800 migrants attempted the crossing.

It was largely driven by the Covid-19 pandemic which reduced the number of legal routes to the UK and Brexit disrupted illegal routes, for example freight between the UK and France fell .

Indeed, Germany was the largest destination in Europe for refugees.

Why do migrants want to come to the UK?

There are a number of factors why people are willing to risk their lives to come to the UK.

The main reason is that these people have family ties to the UK, but other reasons include the UK asylum system, English language, security and economic opportunity.

The UK is a multicultural country that has played a key role in world politics for centuries.

Close political, economic and cultural ties with countries around the world have brought many people to settle here.

For example, there are large numbers of Britons of Indian and Pakistani descent due to the countries’ close ties to the British Empire.

Crossing the English Channel can be extremely dangerous given the busy shipping lane and weather conditions (Image: Getty Images)

In recent years, the UK has become home to people who have been affected by the wars the country has been involved in, such as the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And the fact that the UK has been one of the largest economies in the world since the industrial revolution has led people from many other countries to come here in search of economic opportunities.

The right to a family is classified as a human right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Generally, the UK only accepts asylum applications from people who are already on British soil.

With air traffic much down from pre-Covid levels and less freight moving between the UK and France, there are currently fewer routes into the UK for potential refugees.

So people camped in France hoping to reach the UK currently have little choice but to attempt a bo

Thanks to the dominance of the British Empire and the United States on the world stage over the past few centuries, English is the most widely spoken language in the world.

According to data from Statista as of March 2021, 1.35 billion people speak English – either as a first language or as a second language.

The second most spoken language is Mandarin, with 1.12 billion speakers.

Meanwhile, there are 267 million French speakers.

Being able to speak the language of a country you want to live in can offer a greater chance of getting a job and integrating into society, hence why some people want to come to the UK .

The UK has an overall image of a safe and tolerant democratic society.

Given that the countries of origin of refugees tend to be war-torn or undergoing political upheaval, it is not surprising that many have looked to the UK as a place of refuge.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)in June 2021, 68% of the world’s refugees came from just five countries: Syria (6.7 million people), Venezuela (4 million), Afghanistan (2.6 million), South Sudan ( 2.2 million) and Myanmar (1.1 million).

73% of these people, and all other refugees in the world, have been hosted in neighboring countries.

In the case of Syria, these include Turkey (which hosts the largest number of refugees in the world with 3.7 million people), Jordan and Lebanon.

None of these countries can be considered particularly safe or free.

Turkey is under an authoritarian ruler – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Lebanon is in the depths of a major economic crisis and, although Jordan is relatively stable, its human rights record is mediocre, according to Amnesty International.

“The bad conditions [migrants] the experience in France, in Italy, in other EU countries, pushes them to go even further, to think that in the UK it will be better,” he said.

The UK is one of the largest economies in the world.

And it’s also one of the least regulated in Western Europe, making it easier for migrants to find informal or moonlighting work once they arrive here.

“The economy is much less regulated than in France, there are more opportunities,” Tardis said.

“It’s a very liberal economy that needs a labor force that isn’t very well paid, and foreigners generally accept these types of positions.”

Despite the common refrain that migrants are only interested in the UK benefit system, The Times newspaper analysis showed that this was not the case.

The weekly allowance of £39.63 available in the UK is less generous for asylum seekers than in France, where they receive £43.50 a week and can start applying after six months.

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