Hundreds of migrants continue to flock to English shores despite winter approaching
It was a very mild day for late fall. The sea is cool, but calm, no wind. Conditions seem ideal for crossing the Channel by inflatable boat: again on Wednesday, hundreds of migrants arrived on English shores.
A record 43,000 migrants have crossed the Channel this year. On Monday, according to British government figures, they were 426. On Tuesday, 884 people went in 17 boats and on Wednesday, 426 people went in eight boats.
“We have failed to control our borders,” Interior Minister Suella Braverman admitted in parliament in November. Yet it was one of the Brexit promises and one of the Conservatives’ stated priorities.
At Dover Harbor (southeast coast) you can watch the comings and goings from afar. Boats of maritime authorities return first from the open sea with empty inflatable boats. A boat pulls four boats by itself. Then around 2:00 p.m., dozens of migrants detained at sea arrive on two ships belonging to the “border forces” responsible for border controls.
After a few hours, they are taken by bus to a transit center where their file will begin to be reviewed. Manston (south-east), completed, was the center of a controversy in October: more than 4,000 people were housed there for 1,600 places.
An emigrant died of diphtheria in mid-November. Since then, several dozen cases have been identified among immigrants.
– in hotels –
Abass, a 30-year-old Afghan, followed the classic path. “I crossed over in September. The boat was taking on water and when we arrived in British waters we called the English maritime authorities for help. I was arrested at sea,” he told AFP. told AFP on condition of anonymity.
He was then examined at Manston and then put up in hotels. He now sleeps in a hotel in London, a few hundred meters from the modern towers of the city’s business district. Hotels currently closed to tourists are paid by the government to house asylum seekers.
Abbas applied for refugee status. Originally from Kabul, he explains that he fled his country in August 2021 due to the return of the Taliban to power. “I worked in defense for NATO,” he says. He escaped through Iran, then Turkey, and crossed into Europe. He came to England because he spoke English.
According to Abbas, his hotel houses 300 asylum seekers like him. Men and women keep coming and going. Many came by boat. Others who had been in England for a long time were brought in hiding in lorries.
– shipwreck –
“Now it’s very difficult for migrants to come by truck because the road is so restricted,” explains Peter William Walsh, a researcher at Oxford University’s Migration Laboratory. This “contributed to the rise” of Channel crossings by boat for migrants since 2018.
“Now it’s an established route with networks of smugglers. In the minds of passers-by, the channel is no longer the formidable barrier it once represented,” the researcher adds.
However, on November 24, 2021, 27 migrants aged between 7 and 46 died in a shipwreck. It was the worst tragedy ever recorded in the English Channel, but like shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, it did not deter migrants from trying their luck.
Neither is the UK agreement with Rwanda. The plan, announced under Boris Johnson, plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, but has been blocked in court.
Paris and London signed a deal in mid-November that specifically covers a 72.2 million euro envelope the Britons will have to pay France in 2022-2023 to increase the number of police and gendarmes on the beaches by 800 to 900. French, from the point of departure of emigrants.
The asylum system in the UK is bigger than ever. 140,000 asylum seekers were awaiting a response at the end of September, three times more than in 2019.
Almost 86,000 people applied for asylum between September 2021 and September 2022.