Record year for small boat crossings from France to UK

AFP - [email protected] • 4 Jan, 2022 Updated Tue 4 Jan 2022 08:20 CEST
Record year for small boat crossings from France to UK
Migrants sit onboard a boat navigating in agitated waters between Sangatte and Cap Blanc-Nez (Cape White Nose), in the English Channel off the coast of northern France, as they attempt to cross the maritime borders between France and the United Kingdom on August 27, 2020. - The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33,8 km (21 miles) at the closest point in the Straits of Dover -- in small inflatable boats has spiralled over the summer of the 2020. According to authorities in northern France some 6,200 migrants have attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31, 2020, compared with 2,294 migrants for the whole of 2019. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

A record number of more than 28,000 people crossed the Channel from France to the UK in small boats last year, the PA news agency reported on Tuesday, based on its analysis of government data.


As people smugglers exploited demand, charging thousands of pounds for trips across the busy shipping lane in flimsy boats, at least 28,395 people reached the UK -- more than triple the figure for 2020.

The peak came in November, during the course of which least 6,869 people reached the UK, spurred by favourable weather conditions.

On November 11th, a record-breaking 1,185 reached British shores in a single day.

The higher numbers were partly due to the use of bigger boats, carrying an average of about 28 people and sometimes as many as 50.

Such crossings ended tragically for many, with at least 27 migrants drowning off France on November 24th during an attempted crossing in a boat likened by French officials to a children's inflatable pool.


The 27 victims were mostly men but also included seven women, a 16-year-old and a seven-year-old child.

READ ALSO What is France doing to stop illegal small boat crossings?

They were mostly Iraqi Kurds but also included an Iranian Kurd, Afghans, Ethiopians, a Somali and an Egyptian.

The high number of migrants crossing to Britain from mainland Europe has become a political headache for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The flow of migrants has also soured Britain's relations with France, prompting an unseemly blame game even as both sides try to disrupt the people trafficking networks.

The UK government's Nationality and Borders Bill is currently before parliament, promising tougher action against people smugglers and, controversially, migrants themselves.

If passed, the bill, opposed by rights groups, will allow the return of asylum seekers who have passed through so-called "safe third countries".


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stuart.laing 2022/01/04 16:56
What's the penalty for leaving France without the French exit visa ? Why are dinghy travellers exempt ?

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