The number of small boats carrying migrants across the English Channel to the UK has topped 100,000 since 2018, according to latest figures from the UK Home Office.
When records first began five years ago, just 299 migrants were recorded as successfully making the perilous journey from France across the world’s busiest shipping lane, compared to 28,526 in 2021, 45,755 in 2022 and more than 15,000 so far this year.
The largest number on a single day was recorded on August 22, 2022, when 1,295 crossed on 27 boats – nearly 1,000 more people than the number who arrived in all of 2018.
Two-thirds of migrants making the journey in 2022 were men aged between 18 and 39 years old – almost 10 times the number of females of the same age.
Home Office figures also show that since 2018, men have vastly outnumbered women on the trip, representing around 90 per cent of all those arriving on small boats annually up to the end of March 2023.
Last year, the largest groups of foreign nationals on such vessels came from Albania, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, India, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Kuwait, Georgia and Pakistan. A significant number of people arriving on UK shores do not originate from war-torn countries.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping small-boat crossings a top priority for his Conservative Government and recently announced what he called “Small Boats Week” in an attempt to head-off mounting criticism over what many regard as the government’s failing immigration policy.
The release of the escalating figures came as the first 15 immigrants were sent to temporary housing on the Bibby Stockholm barge floating off the Dorset coast. A further 20 avoided transfer to the vessel after successful legal challenges.
Following the detection of Legionella bacteria in the water system on August 11, all those on board were evacuated.
Britain had a reputation as a safe haven for those fleeing persecution. Including Farage's great great grandfather.
Now their Government tries to fly them to Rwanda or put migrants on bacteria infested barges. Humans deserve better than this! https://t.co/isnSCxxElj
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) August 11, 2023
The barge solution to accommodating illegal migrants had earlier ignited a row in which Conservative Party chairman Lee Anderson told one news outlet that those migrants who didn’t like it should “f*ck off back to France”.
He added: “I think people have just had enough.
“These people come across the Channel in small boats … if they don’t like the conditions they are housed in here then they should go back to France, or better not come at all in the first place.”
The Bibby Stockholm is ultimately expected to accommodate around 500 single male migrants.
The British Government had planned to deport people who arrive in the UK illegally to Rwanda in a hugely controversial £140m scheme that has so far failed to send a single person to the East African nation amid a series of legal challenges.