At least 60% of those who crossed the channel in small boats in 2022 will be recognised as refugees, according to new research. The analysis, based on data provided by the Home Office, finds that 25,119 of the 45,746 people who made the journey last year would be allowed to stay in the UK, and have asylum claims progressed.
The report, titled ‘The Truth about Channel Crossings’ was released by NGO Refugee Council this week, and aims to debunk government claims about those entering the UK illegally. Four in 10 people who crossed the channel came from five countries – Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan. Three of those nationalities currently have asylum grant rates of 98%, with the other two at 86% and 82%.
The report pre-empts forthcoming government proposals to remove the right to claim asylum from those crossing on boats, claiming this would lead to thousands of people living in limbo and potentially being detained for long periods of time. Refugee Council note this would come at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds to the taxpayer.
The CEO of Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, said: ‘The majority of the men, women and children who cross the Channel do so because they are desperate to escape war, conflict and persecution. They have a genuine and urgent need of help and support – and have no other options. There are simply no safe routes through which they can seek safety – no refugee visa they can apply for like those from Ukraine. The government has promised to look at more safe routes, but at the same time has proposed inhumane legislation to detain anyone who crosses the Channel in a small boat, removing the right to claim asylum. This would leave tens of thousands being locked up and treated like criminals. It’s unfair and highlights yet again the lack of a clear process in the UK for most people seeking asylum.’
A government source told the Guardian that this report ‘makes speculations about new legislation that we have yet to fully announce. People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach – not put their lives at risk by paying people smugglers to take dangerous and illegal journeys across the Channel.’
Refugee Council told Left Foot Forward in response: ‘the Home Office failed to refute the main findings of the report, namely that ‘most of the people on the boats are people with very strong claims to refugee status, people in need of safety and security’. They said the ‘government’s plan to detain and deport these refugees was ‘inhumane, unworkable and would cost millions of pounds.’