Home secretary Priti Patel has repeatedly vowed to make the route across the English Channel “unviable”. But crossings have surged, as almost 600 refugees were intercepted attempting to cross the Channel in three days.
Crossings doubled since 2020
The number of people crossing the Channel has almost doubled compared to the same period in 2020. By the end of May, more than 3,100 had reached the English coast.
The Home Office confirmed that the French authorities intercepted 130 people on Friday 4 June. On the same day, UK authorities stopped 83 people.
This follows 201 people being stopped by Border Force on Thursday 3 June. And on Wednesday and Thursday, the French authorities prevented 171 people from reaching the UK.
This makes a total of 585 attempting to cross the 21-mile stretch of water in just three days.
‘Destined to fail’
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said:
This Government’s approach to tackling Channel crossings isn’t working and is destined to fail.
The reality is that when fleeing war, terror and persecution, ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary steps to seek safety in another country.
Instead of relying solely on an enforcement approach to stop the crossings, this Government needs to expand safe routes so that people don’t have to risk their lives taking dangerous journeys at the mercy of criminals and people smugglers.
Creating safe and regular routes to the UK – through an expanded resettlement programme, humanitarian visas and reforming the restrictive family reunion rules – is the way to effectively address the issue.
The home secretary, however, hasn’t acknowledge the need for safe routes.
Patel has called attention to online videos promoting the “lethal crossings”, calling them “totally unacceptable”. She has written to social media firms calling on them to do more to remove such clips.
Patel’s letter, sent on Saturday 5 June, follows a viral video posted on TikTok. The Home Office said the video appeared to show a group of men crossing the Channel in a dinghy.
What these posts don’t mention are the people who have died trying to make this crossing, or those forced to spend 13 hours in unseaworthy boats in freezing waters.
Working with the National Crime Agency, social media companies have made progress in removing these horrendous posts, but they must quickly and proactively remove posts related to illegal crossings before more men, women and children die in the Channel. Now is the time to act before it is too late.
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