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THE Tory government’s immigration policies will lead to more deaths in the English Channel, activists warned today as figures showed that the number making the dangerous crossing had tripled in 2021.
More than 28,300 people tried to reach Britain in small boats last year, about three times the number for 2020, Home Office data revealed.
The increase comes as profiteering smugglers pack more desperate people into unstable dinghies on the French coast, often with deadly consequences.
The government claimed that its Nationality and Borders Bill, currently going through Parliament, would address the issue by criminalising “illegal” entry to Britain and “strengthening the powers of Border Force to stop vessels.”
But refugee rights groups warned that arrivals would continue and more people would drown if ministers continued the “dangerous and callous policy.”
The data shows that the number of arrivals peaked in November when, despite falling temperatures, at least 6,869 people reached Britain.
The same month also saw a new record for a single day, with 1,185 people arriving in Kent on November 11. The previous high was 416 in September 2020.
Refugee Action’s Tim Naor Hilton said that people would continue to suffer unless ministers opened up more routes for refugees to claim asylum in Britain.
“[In November] we saw the deadly result of their strategy and yet the government wants to legalise this dangerous and callous policy in its anti-refugee Bill,” he stressed.
“It must wake up and scrap this Bill now.”
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, a charity supporting refugees living in northern France, said that rising numbers of small-boat arrivals reflected a shift away from attempts to cross by lorry.
“They are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, having lost family members in bloody conflicts, suffered horrific torture and inhumane persecution.
“If the government were serious about stopping people-smugglers, it would create a safe way for people to claim asylum and put people-smugglers out of business once and for all.”
Enver Solomon of the Refugee Council backed the call, saying: “As a country, we can save lives and empower people who have already been through so much to give back to the communities that welcome them.”
Stand Up to Racism co-convener Weyman Bennett told the Morning Star that the borders Bill had “very little to do with migration and everything to do with racism and discrimination.”
He urged “unity and solidarity” to defeat it.
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