Home Secretary Suella Braverman

A new report has revealed that three in four people crossing the Channel in small boats this year are refugees who would be granted asylum if their claims were processed. The findings, from the Refugee Council, show an increase from 65 per cent last year.

The report, The truth about Channel crossings and the impact of the Illegal Migration Actanalyses Home Office statistics on Channel crossings and finds that more than half (54%) of arrivals are from just five countries with high asylum grant rates: Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea, Syria and Sudan.

Based on current grant rates by nationality, the report estimates that 14,648 people who have crossed so far this year would be recognised as refugees if their claims were processed. This represents 74 per cent of all small boat arrivals in 2023 to date.

The report challenges the Government and Home Office’s narrative that the majority of people crossing the Channel are not in genuine need of protection.

Channel crossings overall have reduced by 20% from last year, driven by the reduction in Albanians making the journey, who account for 3% of crossings this year (compared to 35% in the same period in 2022). But across other nationalities, there has been a 19% increase in people crossing the Channel in the first eight months of 2023 (19,441 compared to an estimated 16,275 in 2022).

The Refugee Council also warns that by shutting down the asylum system, the Illegal Migration Act will mean that people can’t be removed to their country of origin. Tens of thousands of refugees risk being left in ‘permanent limbo’ by not having their asylum claims considered. Only around 3.5% of arrivals could be removed under the new legislation.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “The reality is that the men, women and children who come to the UK by taking terrifying journeys across the world’s busiest shipping lane are desperately seeking safety, having fled persecution, terror and oppression. They have not just lost their homes and livelihoods, but have faced many atrocities including torture, sexual coercion, slavery and exploitation.

“Instead of slamming our door in their face and extinguishing the right to asylum, we should be upholding the great British values of fairness and compassion, ensuring they are given a fair hearing on UK soil and welcoming those who need our protection. For those who are not found to be refugees, we should support them to return with dignity and humanity.

“Closing down the asylum system will simply result in vast cost, chaos and human misery with tens of thousands of people stuck in permanent limbo, likely to disappear into the margins of our communities, at risk of destitution, exploitation and abuse.”

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Image credit: Simon Dawson / Number 10 – Creative Commons