The day after 27 people drowned trying to cross the English Channel in an inflatable dinghy, charity organisations warned that more migrants would risk everything to flee violence and poverty in and across the Middle East and Africa.
‘Unless we see this as a catalyst for true structural change, this will keep happening and becoming worse. The deterrents are ineffective,’ said Kay Marsh, a migrant charity worker in Dover, Britain’s gateway to Europe.
Hundreds of thousands of people have crossed into the prosperous economies of Western Europe with the help of smugglers in the last decade, fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty on epic journeys from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan and other places. Only a few were welcomed.
Following the worst-ever Channel catastrophe, France and the United Kingdom blamed each other for the crisis, on Thursday. However, only hours after the drownings, over 40 migrants made it to Dover, where they were carried away by British border officials on a red double-decker bus.
The danger of the journey, as well as the $2,500 per person that charity claim the smugglers charge, do not appear to be deterrents for the migrants.
Campaigners argue that Britain should allow asylum requests to be filed from outside the country.
‘We need to provide individuals the option of claiming asylum before they reach British shores: a processing centre in northern France where people can submit their asylum claims without having to cross the border, and people with legitimate asylum claims may be safely transferred here,’ Marsh added.
According to counts collected by the BBC using interior ministry statistics, 25,776 migrants have crossed the Channel illegally in 2021, up from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019.
‘The government needs to look at establishing what are called safe pathways, safe methods for people in search of protection to get to the UK,’ Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council organisation, said.
However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that this would just encourage more individuals to take unsafe journeys.