1,000 people cross Channel on small boats so far this year
More than 1,000 people have crossed the English Channel aboard small boats so far in 2021.
The first few months of the year have seen the trend of migrants making the perilous journey to the UK continue despite promises from the Home Office to crack down on the issue.
The milestone was reached on the day Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled what she called “the most significant overhaul of our asylum system in decades”.
Her plans have been questioned by experts, and some refugees living in the UK fear the proposals could “punish” people seeking safety.
Crossings have continued despite the risks involved, with one man believed to have lost his life in the attempt earlier this month.
Data compiled by the PA news agency shows more than 1,000 people aboard at least 60 boats have reached Britain so far in 2021.
This is more than double the figure for the same time last year, when it took until late April for the 1,000th person to reach the UK.
On Tuesday at least 183 people crossed the Dover Strait, the Home Office said.
While this is the highest daily figure so far in 2021, it is still much lower than last year’s peak of 416.
On Wednesday at least 67 migrants succeeded in reaching the UK, taking the number for the year above 1,000.
In 2020 more than 8,400 migrants journeyed to the UK aboard small boats despite the dangers involved.
Already this year one person is believed to have died in the attempt.
Majdi Ahmed Bilal, a Sudanese man in his late 20s, was aboard a boat that began taking on water on March 2, charity Care4Calais said.
The three others aboard the boat managed to escape and were taken to hospital with hypothermia.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “His friends are devastated to have lost him.
“We at Care4Calais share the same hope as Majdi’s friends that everyone living in Calais will one day be able to have a safe life.
“Every death at the UK border is preventable. No one should have to risk their lives to claim asylum in the UK.”
On Sunday, immigration minister Chris Philp said: “These dangerous crossings are facilitated by serious organised criminals exploiting people and profiting from human misery.
“We are building a new asylum system which is fair but firm, which will offer protection to those in genuine need through official routes while cracking down on those who enter the UK illegally and the abhorrent gangs who enable it.”