English Channel illegal migrant crossings tripled last year to record levels

A British Border Force patrol boat intercepts a rib with people thought to be migrants off the the coast at Dungeness, England, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
By Karolina Klaskova
2 Min Read

The United Kingdom saw a record number of migrants arrive via the English Channel last year, data shows.

A total of 28,395 migrants landed on the southeast coast of England last year, more than three times the number reported for 2020.

The busiest month for Channel crossings was November, when 6,869 migrants reportedly reached Britain, a month which also saw the record for the most migrants coming in a single day, as 1,185 landed on Nov. 11. The four-figure daily record marked the fifth new record for daily crossings in less than two months as migrants flooded into Britain.

The vast majority were identified upon crossing into U.K. territorial waters and escorted to shore for processing by U.K. border officials, however there were several instances last year when migrant boats arrived undetected on English beaches, and police were called to contain runaways.

The situation in the Channel has escalated the already tense relations between the United Kingdom and France, with both countries accusing the other of taking insufficient action against smuggling gangs.

Relations soured between the governments of the two nations after U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel threatened to withhold substantial payments to France intended to help stem the flow of migrants if French authorities failed to “get their act together” in stopping the crossings.

The situation worsened on Nov. 24 following the tragic death of 31 migrants who drowned off the coast of northern France and the subsequent political fallout, which saw French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin disinvite his British counterpart from an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss how to address the crisis.

A total of 66 migrants reached Britain on Tuesday to become the first arrivals of 2022.

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