Migrant crossings: Hundreds brave Channel after Rwanda plan announced

More are likely to attempt the crossing today after nearly 500 people braved the journey yesterday and on Friday (Picture: PA/Getty)

More than 250 people crossed the Channel yesterday as criticism grows about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda in an effort to dissuade the small boat crossings.

Figures from the Ministry of Defence suggest some 255 people took advantage of the warm weather to brave the perilous crossing in seven boats yesterday.

It comes after 181 migrants braved the crossing on Friday, with more expected over the Easter weekend.

That means more than 6,000 people have been brought ashore in the UK after crossing from France in small boats so far this year.

On Thursday, the Royal Navy took over ‘operational command’ of handling migrants crossing the Channel as part of another Government shake-up which will see the planned transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The scheme has been widely blasted by experts, charities, civil servants and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and labelled ‘shamefully cruel’.

Now even former UKIP leader and anti-immigration commentator Nigel Farage has branded the Navy’s involvement a ‘waste of time and resources’.

Irregular migrants caught by the UK Coast Border Guard are brought to the Port of Dover in Dover, United Kingdom on April 16, 2022. Britain announced that irregular migrants caught trying to cross from France to England will be sent to Rwanda. (Photo by Stuart Brock/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Migrants taken to shore by Border Guard yesterday (Picture: Getty)

EDITORS NOTE: Children's faces have been pixelated as the PA Picture Desk has been unable to gain the necessary permission to photograph a child under 16 on issues involving their welfare. A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2022. PA Photo. Under a scheme designed to crack down on migrants landing on British shores after crossing the Channel in small boats, the UK intends to provide those deemed to have arrived unlawfully with a one-way ticket to Rwanda. See PA story POLITICS Immigration. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

These people were among 255 to arrive in the UK on small boats today (Picture: PA)

He claimed the vessels used are ‘too high’ to take people on board, so their role is limited to towing back empty dinghies.

A MoD spokeswoman said the patrol vessels are being used to bolster the capability in the Channel until ‘more appropriate’ boats are sourced.

A total of 651 people on 18 boats were rescued or intercepted on Wednesday April 13, making it the highest number in a day so far this year.

A further 562 arrived on Thursday on 14 boats, which brought the total for the year above 6,000, according to figures collected by the PA news agency.

A record 1,185 people made the crossing to the UK on November 11, 2021 – the highest recorded so far since the start of 2020.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel.

Children were among those to arrive yesterday (Picture: PA)

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel.

The latest arrivals come amid a fierce debate over whether migrants should be sent to Rwanda (Picture: PA)

In March this year, 3,066 people made the crossing.

That is nearly four times the amount recorded for the same month in 2021 (831) and more than 16 times the number in March 2020 (187).

A total of 28,395 people made the crossing in 2021, compared with 8,417 in 2020.

Earlier today, Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed that migrants crossing the Channel in small boats ‘supporting organised crime’.

The Cabinet minister, speaking on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend programme, said he disagrees with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s interpretation of the Government’s new immigration policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

In his Easter sermon, Justin Welby said ‘sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God’.

But Mr Rees-Mogg said of those comments: ‘I think he misunderstands what the policy is trying to achieve, and that it isn’t an abandonment of responsibility, it is in fact a taking on of a very difficult responsibility.

‘The problem that is being dealt with is that people are risking their lives in the hands of people traffickers, to get into this country illegally. Now, it’s not the illegal bit of it, it is the encouragement of people traffickers that needs to be stopped.’

He said ‘90% of people coming are young men who by coming via people traffickers are jumping the queue for others’.

Mr Rees-Mogg added: ‘They are in doing so not only risking their lives but supporting organised crime. What we need to do is focus on legal routes into this country of which there are quite a number.’

Humanitarian groups disagree, with the policy savaged by experts across the board.

The UN has also said it believes the idea breaks international law.

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