Refugee Crisis: A Record Day For Small Boat Crossings Into The UK

This week the Home Office confirmed that 6 August was a record day for small boat crossings into the UK.

A record number of people made it across the Channel in small boats, with 235 people identified as crossing the border and growing numbers of unaccompanied children among them. Conditions in the refugee camps in Calais have been reported as the worst yet.

The recent pandemic has seen a huge decrease in traffic between Dover and Calais, as well as in the number of freight lorries using the crossing, meaning there has been limited transport for refugees which in turn led to a spike in the number of small boats being used to carry people across the Channel and into the UK to seek asylum.

These people cross oceans to flee the horrors of their home countries, often experience extreme brutality and are extorted out of (on average) £3000 for their space in what is usually just a dinghy, only to be greeted with hostility and resentment and face the threat of deportation when they arrive in the UK.

The UK’s resettlement programme has been closed since March 30, giving refugees no safe or legal route into the UK. There’s also been no confirmation that it will be extended from its initial expiry in September. More recently, after the increase in the number of people trying to flee to the UK, the government has proposed the introduction of hardline measures to discourage refugees and migrants from making the journey.

In calling out such unnecessary steps, Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, said “It’s deeply troubling the government is trying to shirk its responsibility to help people fleeing from some of the world’s most violent and oppressive countries. Britain is better than this. Refugees deserve better than this. We must step up alongside other countries and make our contribution to the global refugee crisis.”

What the UK needs most, is a safe and legal process by which refugees in Calais can make an asylum claim, obliterating the market for people smugglers and enabling them to have their case heard.