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Report: 600% increase in number of migrants crossing English Channel in 2019

January 6, 2020 at 12:44 pm

A migrant reacts near French riot police during a protest near the area called the “jungle” where they live in Calais, France, on 1 October 2016. [REUTERS/Pascal Rossigno]

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reported on Saturday that the number of migrants who crossed the English Channel increased almost seven fold in 2019, criticising the policies of France and UK regarding the rights of asylum seekers.

The Geneva-based rights watchdog said in a statement: “By the end of 2019, around 2,000 individuals reached the UK through the English Channel by small inflatable boats. The number alarmingly grew from only 300 the year before.”

It warned that “most asylum seekers cross the channel in unequipped, unseaworthy and overloaded vessels; putting many lives at risk of drowning”, with four dying at sea last year while attempting to make the journey to the UK.

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It placed the blame of France’s crackdown on refugees, especially on migrants camps in Calais and Dunkirk, and fear that Brexit – the UK’s planned exit from the European Union – for the increasing migrant numbers as many fear borders will be closed as a result.

France and the UK are spending money to “thwart people from crossing the channel”, it said, not “aid asylum seekers find to a safe refuge”.

The group explained that such measures have only compelled asylum seekers to resort to more dangerous alternatives, to avoid returning to their countries of origin, where conflicts, wars and persecution await them.