Record number of migrants arrive in Britain in boat crossings on single day

AFP

The number of migrants arriving in Britain in small boats hit a record for a single day on Monday, as the rise in dangerous crossings over the English Channel continues despite the government's plans to deport those arriving illegally to Rwanda.

Britain's Ministry of Defence said 1,295 people in 27 boats were intercepted after making the crossing from the European mainland on Monday. The figure surpasses the previous daily record of 1,185 set last November.

The outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson had hoped that the threat of deporting people to Rwanda announced in April alongside other efforts, such as handing the navy the responsibility for intercepting migrants, would act as a deterrent to those arriving in dinghies and small boats.

Under an agreement struck in April, Britain will send tens of thousands of migrants who arrive on its shores illegally more than 6,4000 km to the East African country.

The policy will be the subject of a legal challenge in London's High Court in early September when a coalition of human rights groups and a trade union will argue that the Rwanda policy is unworkable and unethical.

The first planned deportation flight in June was blocked by a last-minute injunction from the European Court of Human Rights.

"The rise in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable," a government spokesperson said. "Not only are they an overt abuse of our immigration laws but they risk the lives of vulnerable people, who are being exploited by ruthless criminal gangs."

In 2021, 28,526 people were detected arriving on small boats - with the highest number from Iran followed by Iraq, Eritrea, and Syria. So far this year, more than 22,000 migrants have come to Britain, with government officials warning 60,000 could arrive by the end of the year. 

Both candidates vying to replace Johnson as prime minister, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, have promised to push ahead with the Rwanda plan.

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