More than 28,000 migrants crossed Channel in small boats in 2021: UK

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More than 28,000 people arrived in Britain having crossed the Channel from France in small boats last year, according to official figures released for the first time on Thursday.

There were 28,526 people detected arriving on small boats in 2021, compared with 8,466 in 2020, 1,843 in 2019, and 299 in 2018.

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November saw 6,971 small boat arrivals, the highest monthly total in the four years that statistics have been collected.

The interior ministry said the crossings, in unsuitable and dangerous craft across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, were a “phenomenon that was rare prior to 2019 but has since increased sharply in number.”

It also pointed out that small boat crossings were only one of many methods used to “seek entry without permission,” to Britain.

The figures are slightly higher than anticipated, and raises pressure on the government, whose voters often cite illegal immigration as one of the key issues.

The government in London also made “taking back control” of Britain’s borders a key plank of its campaign to leave the European Union in Brexit.

Around 90 percent of those arriving in 2021 were male and three-quarters were men aged between 18 and 39.

Children under 18 made up around 12 percent of arrivals, 76 percent of whom were boys.

London and Paris have both blamed each other for the situation, and some journeys ending in tragedy.

In November, 27 migrants drowned off France during an attempted crossing in a boat likened by French officials to a children’s inflatable pool.

French President Emmanuel Macron says Britain’s failure to establish a legal route to claim asylum in the country is in part responsible for the crisis.

But Britain counters that France is not doing enough to prevent criminal gangs of exploitative people smugglers from launching the small vessels from its northern shores.

Around 30 percent of those arriving in 2021 were Iranian nationals, 21 percent Iraqi, 11 percent Eritrean and nine percent Syrian, although information on nationality was not available for many arrivals.

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