Fifty migrants on board each boat crossing Channel for UK as hundreds arrive daily

After a brief dip in number of crossings due to bad weather, hundreds of arrivals are again being processed

People thought to be migrants are taken on a rescue vessel into Dover, south-east England. PA
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An average of 50 migrants are crammed into each boat that illegally crosses the Channel from France to the UK, new figures indicate.

More than 43,000 men, women and children have made the dangerous journey through busy shipping lanes since January 1, according to analysis of statistics from Britain’s Ministry of Defence. The number is the highest on record and 50 per cent greater than the annual figure for the whole of last year.

Despite French authorities conducting patrols on beaches and the UK’s Conservative government threatening to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, the steady stream of boats has continued.

A total of 884 people in 17 boats were intercepted in UK waters on Tuesday, MoD data showed, an average of 52 per vessel. The latest arrivals bring the provisional total for this year to 43,500.

The vast majority of people who leave France for the south-east coast of England travel in rubber dinghies that are intercepted by British authorities before reaching the shoreline.

In previous years, Channel crossings dwindled to a halt during the colder months as such small vessels struggled to cope with choppy seas.

But this year has seen the trend bucked.

Migrants in the UK - in pictures

Brief spells of bad weather sporadically halted crossings earlier this month but they have since resumed with hundreds of migrants arriving daily.

The continuation of such journeys as December approaches could be a sign that people smugglers are using more robust vessels to transport people across the sea.

Last week marked one year since 27 migrants drowned while trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable boat.

Police in Gloucestershire on Tuesday arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of being a member of an organised crime gang behind the fatal crossing.

Officers swooped on Harem Ahmed Abubaker in Cheltenham and he now faces extradition to France, where he is accused of the “French equivalent of manslaughter” and facilitating illegal immigration, the National Crime Agency said.

A pregnant woman and children were among the dead. Four people are still missing.

Sixteen of those killed were Iraqi-Kurds while four were from Afghanistan.

The boat in which they had been travelling was “like a pool you blow up in your garden”, according to Gerald Darmanin, France’s Interior Minister.

The tragedy sparked a fresh migration row between politicians in London and Paris, as ministers traded blame for the worsening crisis.

An official report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch found the boat had reached UK waters.

Suella Braverman, the UK’s Home Secretary, travelled to the French capital this month to sign an agreement to stem the flow of Channel crossings. Under the pact, costing £62 million ($74.4 million), co-operation of border policing teams on each side of the water will be boosted.

Critics have accused Ms Braverman of creating animosity towards migrants after she claimed Britain was experiencing an "invasion".

Updated: November 30, 2022, 1:24 PM
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