Europe

New record as nearly 600 people cross English Channel to UK in single day

An all time high of nearly 600 people made the perilous trip across the English Channel on a single day this week.

At least 592 succeeded in making the dangerous crossing on Thursday, while a minimum of 155 were intercepted by French authorities and returned to the continent.

It eclipses the previous record of 482 people, set just over a week earlier on August 4.

More than 11,000 people have successfully crossed the Dover Strait aboard small boats this year, compared to 8,417 in 2020.

On Thursday a 27-year-old Eritrean man lost his life as he and four others jumped overboard as their boat started to sink in the Dover Strait.

His 22-year-old girlfriend watched as he entered the water before she was later rescued, according to a French migrant help association Utopia 56.

After being returned to port in Dunkirk, she later discovered that her boyfriend had died after being taken to hospital in Calais.

It is thought he died as a result of cardio-respiratory arrest and a manslaughter investigation is now underway in France.

Thursday’s loss of life did not stop more people from attempting the journey yesterday, with people seen being brought into the port of Dover in Kent after crossing the Channel.

The Home Office said 25 people reached the UK aboard one boat yesterday while others were returned to France.

Director of advocacy and engagement at the Refugee Council Lisa Doyle said: ‘The Government needs to recognise that while there is war, persecution and violence, people will be forced to take dangerous journeys to seek safety.

‘We are talking about ordinary men, women and children who are forced to flee their home through no fault of their own. The odds are stacked against them but they struggle on to survive.

‘The Government must change its approach. Instead of seeking to punish or push away people seeking safety because of the type of journey they have made to the UK, they must create and commit to safe routes.

‘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.’

Priti Patel and her department have repeatedly vowed to make the Channel route ‘unviable’, but crossings have continued to rise.

But charities have criticised the Home Secretary for her approach and have called for the establishment of more safe and legal routes for people wanting to claim asylum in the UK.

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