Migrants crossing the Channel up 13% compared with last year, figures show

Thursday 1 February 2024

Some 1,335 people arrived in the UK after making the journey from France in January, according to provisional Home Office data.

This is compared with the official monthly total of 1,180 recorded in January 2023, analysis of the figures by the PA news agency shows.

The total for January 2024 is just slightly lower than the number of arrivals in the first month of 2022 (1,339), figures show.

That was the highest January total since records began in 2018 and marked the start of a year when a record 45,774 people crossed the Channel.

The figures come a day after migrants were pulled from the sea as they were rescued while trying to cross the Channel.

Wednesday saw 278 people arrive in the UK after making the journey in six boats, the Government data shows.

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Earlier this week Downing Street said there were “variations” in the number of crossings taking place but it was “too early to say what the trend is for this year”, when asked whether Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was on track to achieve his pledge to “stop the boats”.

Home Secretary James Cleverly met his French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, for the first time in Paris on Tuesday, with the pair said to have agreed to wider and more regular use of drones in sky patrols to monitor migrants attempting to make the journey as part of existing agreements in a bid to curb Channel crossings.

At the start of the year Mr Cleverly – who set himself a target of meeting Mr Sunak’s “stop the boats” pledge by the end of 2024 – insisted the weather was not a “contributory factor” to last year’s falling number of migrant crossings.

The decrease was instead because of co-operation with Europe, disrupting the supply chain of engines and boats, and “going after the money of these people smugglers”, he said, as the Government argued the figures were evidence of the UK’s £480 million agreement with France to beef up efforts to stop migrants making the journey starting to pay off as well as the effectiveness of a fast-track returns deal struck with Albania.

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