Cross-Channel migrants top 40,000: UK
The UK Ministry of Defense says that the provisional total of migrants who crossed the Channel to Britain this year stands at 40,885.
The United Kingdom government confirmed on Sunday that more than 40,000 migrants, a new record, have crossed the Channel to Britain so far this year.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the provisional total for this year stands at 40,885, most of whom are Albanians, Iranians, and Afghans -- well in excess of last year's 28,561.
On Saturday, some 972 people were detected making the crossing in 22 boats, it said.
The figures have been rising for years. Some 299 were detected making the crossing in 2018; 1,843 in 2019; and 8,466 in 2020, according to the UK.
The numbers have continued to surge despite various UK policies, including a plan to send the migrants to Rwanda, which has been blocked in the courts.
Last week, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said a new plan agreed upon with France was in the works, after his first face-to-face meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.
In talks Friday, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and British counterpart James Cleverly "stressed the urgency of tackling all forms of illegal migration including small boat crossings and addressing their root causes," according to a joint statement.
The rising numbers have caused a logjam in asylum claims and increased accommodation costs estimated by the UK government at £6.8 million ($7.8 million) a day, straining local services and fuelling public anger.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, immigration minister Robert Jenrick considered that Britain's "generosity" was being "abused" by economic migrants who were "asylum shopping" their way around Europe.
"'Hotel Britain' must end and be replaced with simple, functional accommodation that does not create an additional pull factor," Jenrick insisted.
The government is looking at alternatives to hotel rooms for asylum claimants, including disused student accommodation, defunct holiday parks, and even budget cruise ships, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
However, refugee rights groups accuse the government of a chaotic approach, after unsanitary conditions developed at one overcrowded asylum processing center in Manston, southeast England.
Nonetheless, Jenrick claimed that a closer relationship with France would help to deter those "attempting to cheat the process."
The new partnership will reportedly see Britain pay France about £80 million ($95 million) for beefed-up technology and measures such as joint operations against people-trafficking gangs.