From file: A member of the military carries a young child after they crossed the Channel | Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA via AP
From file: A member of the military carries a young child after they crossed the Channel | Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA via AP

The numbers of migrants to have crossed the Channel from France to the UK this year have passed 15,000, report several British newspapers.

By July 19, at least 15, 107 migrants had crossed the Channel from the French and Belgium coasts towards the United Kingdom. That is according to reports in a number of British newspapers and news agencies, including the Press Association (PA), the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.

The figure, they report, is based on "provisional UK government data." The heatwave, which is currently sitting over much of Europe and the UK, has made nighttime temperatures in the Channel higher than normal, not dropping much below 20 degrees Celsius, and the sea relatively calm.

On Monday, the UK's Ministry of Defense, which helps bring in many of the migrant boats from the Channel, registered a total of 330 arrivals. British government figures for the week from July 11 to July 17 say that 1,474 migrants arrived by this route in a total of 39 separate boats.

2,411 crossed so far in July

Adding up the UK government’s provisional data for Channel crossings since the beginning of July, by July 19 the figure stood at 2,411.

Babies are among those who have successfully crossed, reported the right-wing tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail. Last year in the same period, January-July, around 7,735 people made it across, roughly doubling the numbers.

The numbers crossing the Channel in 2021 were already regarded as a significant increase from the previous year. This year, news outlets like the BBC have reported that the final tally of arrivals could top 60,000 by the end of the year.

The British government has announced numerous schemes in the last few years to try and slow down or stop the crossings, saying that they want to prevent any more loss of life on this dangerous stretch of water, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Rwanda 'deterrent' not working

The latest scheme was to threaten that those who crossed the Channel could face applying for asylum in Rwanda rather than Britain and would have to stay there if granted it. However, despite the policy being lauded as a deterrent by the British Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Priti Patel, it doesn’t seem to have stopped the numbers of those climbing into small boats.

Almost daily crossings have continued since the policy was first announced in April this year. On Monday, the Home Affairs Select Committee told Parliament that, having heard from experts, border force officers, and politicians, lawyers and migrants rights organizations, they felt there was "no clear evidence that the policy will deter migrant crossings."

If anything, the report made clear, it seemed to have sped up the attempted crossings. The report authors felt that people traffickers may have started to use the threat of Rwanda as a means to put more people in boats more quickly because if the new regulations do come into force and flights start up to Rwanda, it might be much harder to obtain asylum in the UK in the future, so migrants had "better get on with [crossing]" the report said.

 

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