More than 5,000 migrants could have crossed the English Channel already this year – and dozens more made the journey today as smugglers take advantage of mild weather
- Dozens more migrants crossed the English Channel in small boats today
- The latest illegal crossings could take the total number for the year above 5,000
- Border Force escorted dozens of migrants into the port at Dover at around 11am
More than 5,000 migrants could have crossed the English Channel already this year, with dozens more making the perilous journey today amid more favourable weather conditions.
Onlookers reported seeing three groups being intercepted as they attempted to cross the 21-mile Dover Straits in inflatable dinghies or other small boats this morning.
Border Force vessel Ranger escorted dozens of migrants, including at least three small children and a baby, into the port at Dover, Kent shortly before 11am.
A second group, predominantly made up of men, was steered into the harbour on Border Force cutter Hurricane less than an hour later.
Smugglers appeared to take advantage of milder weather in the UK – as Britons were hit with highs of 17 degrees this afternoon.
More than 5,000 migrants could have crossed the English Channel already this year, with dozens more making the perilous journey today amid more favourable weather conditions. Pictured: RNLI picks up migrants earlier this month
While the Home Office is yet to confirm the official figures for today, it is thought that the latest arrivals could tip the running total over 5,000
According to data released by the Government, 37 migrants crossed the Channel on Sunday, taking the total for 2023 so far to 4,936 in 118 boats – an average of 42 people per vessel.
While the Home Office is yet to confirm the official figures for today, it is thought that the latest arrivals could tip the running total over 5,000.
READ MORE: Half of Brits back Government’s plans to deport migrants to Rwanda but most don’t believe it will work, new poll shows
This is significantly less than 2022, which had already seen 6,342 migrants cross the Channel by small boat at this point in the year.
Last year saw a record of 45,755 asylum seekers reach the UK. The busiest day came on August 22 when 1,295 people made treacherous journey in a 24-hour period.
Officials predicted that as many as 80,000 migrants could enter the UK on small boats this year, but bad weather on the coast has put a temporary halt to crossings on multiple occasions already.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The unacceptable number of people risking their lives by making these dangerous crossings is placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system.
‘Our priority is to stop this illegal trade, and our Small Boats Operational Command is working alongside our French partners and other agencies to disrupt the people smugglers.
Officials predicted that as many as 80,000 migrants could enter the UK on small boats this year but bad weather has halted crossings on many occasions. Pictured: Migrants arrive in Dover on April 10
The Home Office condemned the illegal crossings and hit out at them ‘placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Ms Braverman have said that ‘stopping the boats’ across the Channel is a crucial priority
‘The government has gone further by introducing legislation which will ensure that those people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Ms Braverman have said that ‘stopping the boats’ across the Channel is a crucial priority, but campaigners have condemned much of the Government’s response, with the latest proposed legislation – the Illegal Migration Bill – described as an effective ‘asylum ban’.
Meanwhile it was just over a year ago since the £120million Rwanda scheme was announced by then home secretary Priti Patel on April 14.
Under the proposals, any adult who enters Britain illegally could be sent on a one-way ticket to the African country to have their asylum claim processed.
But, over the past 12 months, no migrants have been sent to Rwanda from the UK as the Government battles legal challenges against the policy.
A poll by the More In Common think tank, carried out between April 6 to 11, found that 46 per cent of people still support the Rwanda scheme.
However, results of the poll, published showed almost half (48 per cent) believed the policy would not make a difference to the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats.
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