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Steep rise in Indians crossing to UK on small boats in 2023: Report


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There has been a 60 per cent increase in Indian nationals using illegal small boats to cross the English Channel to enter the UK in 2023, reports Times of India.

They pay around £100 to smugglers in Calais to undertake this risky journey and make asylum claims once they land in the UK.

The latest data released by the Office of National Statistics states that 1,192 Indians arrived in small boats in 2023, up from 748 in 2022. The majority of them were males in the age group of 18 to 39 years, the daily added.

Among Indian asylum seekers, nearly half of them (663) arrived between January and March 2023, out of which 648 were males.

Interestingly in the years 2021 and 2020, the number of Indians using this mode to enter the UK was as low as 67 and 64 respectively, whereas in 2018 and 2019 no Indian national made such an attempt.

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Indians formed the ninth largest nationality group to arrive in small boats in 2023. The highest numbers came from Afghanistan (5,545), followed by Iran (3562) and Türkiye (3,040).

Overall 29,438 illegal migrants arrived in the UK using 602 boats in 2023, a 36 per cent drop from 45,774 in 2022.

These migrants commonly use inflatable boats, dinghies, and kayaks, and the journey is fraught with high risks.

These boats are often filled way beyond their carrying capacities and the illegal migrants have to brave freezing temperatures and choppy waters.

There are frequent incidents of boat capsizing resulting in tragedies.

Recently a UK court had convicted a Senegalese national for piloting an inflatable boat that capsized on the English Channel in December 2022, leading to the death of four people.

The boat could carry 20 people but there were 43 on board. It capsized shortly after leaving the French coast and rescue workers managed to save 39.

Sunak’s priority

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had last year made “stop the boats” one of his five priorities.

Though this year the overall numbers have dropped by a third, Sunak recently admitted that he he does not have a precise target date for stopping migrant crossings.

Recently, the UK and EU officials signed an agreement that will provide British law enforcers access to the EU’s intelligence on criminal gangs involved in human trafficking.

Sunak administration is also trying to push through a bill that would allow the government to send asylum seekers who arrive without permission in Britain to Rwanda.

However, it is facing a lot of legal and political hurdles. It has also been criticised by human rights groups.

Recently, UN human rights chief Volker Turk criticised the controversial plan saying it undermines fundamental principles of rights.


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