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Rise in Channel crossings ‘likely’ in wake of summer General Election – charity

28 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Image: Gareth Fuller / PA images

The next government could be faced with a surge in Channel crossings in the wake of a summer General Election, a migrant charity has warned.

It is “highly likely” there will be an increase in the number of people making the journey to the UK in the coming weeks, the Refugee Council suggested, in light of analysis of past patterns of arrivals.

It comes as the charity called for “sensible” asylum policies and for Labour, if elected to power, to urgently repeal sweeping asylum laws.

The summer months are typically the busiest for Channel crossings amid better weather conditions.

Last year a total of 29,437 Channel crossings were recorded, down 36% on a record 45,774 in 2022.

Just over a third (36%) of crossings in 2022 took place in August and September. In 2023, those two months also accounted for a third (34%) of crossings.

Crossings

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has repeatedly insisted his plan to curb migrant crossings is working.

But more than 50,000 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel since he became Prime Minister in October 2022, including some 13,000 so far this year.

Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon told reporters there is “no evidence” that the Government’s bid to send asylum seekers to Rwanda will act as a deterrent.

The charity has consistently argued that ministers need to establish ways for asylum seekers to legally travel to the UK to submit claims in order to end the dangerous crossings.

In a report published on Friday, it set out a list of proposals for the incoming government to grip the backlog of asylum claims and how to approach Channel crossings.

Home Office figures show 150 people made the journey in four boats on Wednesday, taking the provisional total for 2024 to date to 13,195.

This is already a record for the first six months of a calendar year.

It is also 17% higher than the number recorded by this time last year (11,278) and up 8% on the same period in 2022 (12,206), according to PA news agency analysis of Government figures.

As yet there is no indication of a clear trend of arrival rates in the first half of the last two years, making it too early to project what an estimated 2024 total could be.

Some 28% of Channel crossings recorded in 2022 took place between January and June, while 39% of arrivals in 2023 were logged during the same period, PA analysis also shows.

Mr Solomon said: “There’s no evidence the Government has presented that the Rwanda plan will act as a deterrent. Everyone that we work with in the asylum system that has made dangerous journeys, and other organisations based in northern France, and indeed some work that has been done by researchers in northern France, very clearly suggests that it will not act as a deterrent, that it will not stop people.”

Rwanda

Research indicates that asylum seekers flee to the UK because of family, historical connections and links to language, among other reasons, he added.

“What Labour should do if they were to come into power, absolutely we would say, is repeal the Illegal Migration Act and the Safety of Rwanda Act as soon as possible”, he said, as well as the Nationality and Borders Act, which the charity also opposed.

Asked whether immigration pledges in Labour’s manifesto go far enough, Mr Solomon said this is a “complex issue” with “no single magic bullet” and that the party’s vow to tackle smuggling gangs is “important but needs to be part of a wider strategy” which addresses the reasons and “so-called push factors” as to why people flee and seek asylum and to consider establishing “safe routes so people don’t have to take dangerous journeys”.

“It needs sensible policy-making and it needs a recognition that it’s the hard yards of policy-making and delivery over time that can have an impact,” he added.

The next government will need to take “decisive action to address the cost, chaos and human misery that result from the existing state of the asylum system”, the Council’s report said as it warned some reforms were already “slowing down decisions”.

Measures the charity believes should be introduced include establishing a team of Home Office officials to review asylum claims which have been refused and the decision then appealed, with powers to grant claims if appropriate, as well as recruiting more immigration judges to hear cases.

“The home secretary in the new government will have responsibility for fixing an asylum system that faces a myriad of challenges caused by unworkable legislation that has only served to make the process more complex and unwieldy”, the report said, adding: “The immediate focus for the next government must be on getting to grips with the asylum decision making system to tackle the backlog in initial decisions. The next government must not repeat the mistakes of recent years. A new national refugee strategy is needed that gives people a fair hearing in the UK and delivers order and compassion.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
17 days ago

It is just ‘Summer in the Channel’…don’t confuse people with headlines…

Last edited 17 days ago by Mab Meirion
GaryCymru
GaryCymru
17 days ago

The blame for “The boats” land’s solely in the laps of the Brexit voters. And it’s beautiful to see them giving themselves unhealthy levels of stress over it.

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
17 days ago

But hang on, I thought Sir Keir Starmer said he was going to smash the boats, or was it the boat gangs?
So why would there be an increase???

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