United Kingdom: more than 28,000 migrants crossed the Channel in 2021, a record

This is a figure that has exploded in four years. More than 28,000 migrants arrived in England in 2021, after crossing the Channel in small boats, revealed Thursday, February 24, the British Ministry of the Interior. Some migrants paid for it with their lives, as at the end of November, when the sinking of a precarious boat, the deadliest in the Channel, left 27 dead.

The phenomenon developed strongly in the face of the closure of the port of Calais (Pas-de-Calais) and the Eurotunnel, which the migrants used while hiding in vehicles. In November 2021 alone, a monthly record of 6,971 people reached the English coast aboard small boats, despite the danger linked to the density of traffic, strong currents and low water temperature.

Mainly Iranians and Iraqis

A total of 28,526 people made these perilous crossings last year, compared to 8,466 in 2020, 1,843 in 2019 and 299 in 2018, the ministry said, publishing the data for the first time. In 2021, of all arrivals, three-quarters (75%) were men aged 18-39, 7% women and 12% children, mostly boys.

While Iranians made up the majority of arrivals in 2018 and 2019, the Home Office said it has since seen a greater diversity of nationalities. Thus, in 2021, around 30% were Iranians, 21% Iraqis, 11% Eritreans and 9% Syrians.

Strict measures against smugglers

The British government wants to make “impassable” these crossings via a controversial bill, currently being examined in Parliament, which promises tougher measures against smugglers but also against migrants who have arrived illegally.

In its publication, however, the ministry stresses that arrivals by sea are only one of the means used to reach British territory illegally. It is not “it is not possible to know the exact size of the irregular population in the UK, nor the total number of people entering it irregularly”he points out.

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