Migrant crossings on the English Channel surge amid British heatwave

Arrivals could continue into next week, with the UK's meteorological agency saying warm weather and calm winds are set to go on

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The number of migrants crossing the English Channel has reached record-breaking figures and is set to be driven higher due to the exceptionally hot summer in Britain and the relative calm of the country’s surrounding waters.

An analysis of preliminary figures released by the UK's Ministry of Defence indicate that 18,000 migrants have crossed the waterway from France to England over the course of eight months this year.

A total of 28,526 people made the same crossing in 2021.

The milestone was broken just five days after 696 people were rescued by the UK Border Force and brought to shore on August 1, the busiest day for Channel crossings so far this year.

An analysis of the ministry's figures shows that 1,709 people were brought to the UK shore in the first week of August, more than half the number rescued during the whole of the same month last year.

The vast majority were brought to shore in Dover. However many, including those brought to land on August 1, were taken to the Port of Ramsgate owing to concerns about congestion around Dover port caused by freight and holidaymaker traffic.

The busiest week for crossings so far in 2022 was the week to April 19 when 2,076 people made the dangerous journey across the Channel.

However, it is likely that crossings will continue into next week, with the UK's meteorological agency confirming that warm weather and calm winds are set to linger in the south-east of England.

More than 13,000 people have made the crossing since Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda on April 14.

In a statement sent to The National, a Government spokesperson called the rise in Channel crossings "unacceptable" and said they would continue "preparations to relocate those who are making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys into the UK in order for their claims to be considered" to Rwanda under its new Migration and Economic Development Partnership.

A leaked military intelligence report seen by The Telegraph showed that over a six week period in June and July, almost four in 10 Channel migrants were from Albania.

Iranians were previously the leading nationality of those making the journey and it is unclear why there is an uptick of people from the small country in the Balkans, which is not currently at war, making the crossing.

The continued pace of crossings suggests the controversial deal has not acted as the deterrent the UK government hoped it would.

Last week, a report from the UN's refugee agency and the British Red Cross found that critical gaps in the UK asylum system mean people seeking safety, including those fleeing modern slavery, may be at risk of exploitation.

The research found that inadequate support is exposing vulnerable people to potential harm.

It cites examples of asylum seekers being coerced into slavery, including domestic servitude, sexual and labour exploitation as well as forced criminality.

“Straightforward changes to the asylum process would reduce these risks of exploitation by putting safety at the heart of the asylum system,” the report concluded.

The Home Office said it is considering the findings.

“We take the safety and well-being of thousands of people in asylum accommodation support extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring that individuals are protected from the heinous crime of modern slavery,” said a Home Office representative.

“Where we suspect an asylum seeker is in danger or at risk of exploitation, we will take the appropriate action, such as working with the police or supporting someone through the national referral mechanism.

“We would urge any asylum seeker who may be in trouble to report it immediately.

“Our new plan for immigration will fix the broken asylum system, enabling us to grant protection to those entitled to it and to remove those with no right to be here more quickly.”

Updated: August 08, 2022, 2:26 PM
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