Concerns that Afghan refugees may cross the Channel to the UK

With the highest figure for a single day in the current migration crisis, 828 people crossed the English Channel in small boats recently, whether or not the Afghanistan crisis will lead to many more asylum seekers trying to reach UK shores is to early to be able to tell according to the UN’s refugee agency. Although the Home Office continues to vow to make the route ‘unviable’, 30 boats successfully reached the UK in small boats on Saturday.

The Government has reacted to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan by airlifting locals who helped the UK during the 20 year war in the country, and with a promise to resettle 20,000 further Afghans. However,the grim scenes in Afghanistan have led to concern that it could lead to an influx of refugees to Europe and worsen the continent’s migration crisis.

The UNHCR refugee agency’s Matthew Saltmarsh said that most Afghan civilians are being displaced within the country or to neighbouring countries.  Afghanistan is currently primarily an internal humanitarian crisis, and it is a matter of urgency that we continue to support Afghan civilians where they are.

Up to now the numbers crossing into neighbouring countries has been relatively modest, and UNHCR has asked all to keep their borders open and stands ready to assist as needed.  The situation is fluid and it is difficult to assess the potential outflow of refugees or how this might affect Europe and the UK.

Experience has shown that the vast majority of refugees remain in their regions.  Almost 90 per cent of Afghan refugees are in Pakistan and Iran, so it is crucial that the international community assists those countries in providing for the refugees.

Data collected by the PA news agency shows that more than 12,400 people have made the dangerous Channel crossing to the UK in 2021.  The figure of 828 people on Saturday is more than the previous daily record of 592 people two weeks ago. This sea journey has claimed the lives of many leading to outpourings of grief and repeated promises of action from the governments on both sides of the Channel.

Director for the charity Detention Action, Bella Sankey said the Home Office ‘needs to confront reality’ and in order to end the use of small boats, MPs should create a humanitarian visa system for people in France who are travelling to the UK so they can arrive in safety and with dignity to make their claims.

The Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander continues to say that these dangerous crossings from safe EU countries are completely unnecessary and we are ‘determined to take down the evil gangs behind them’. We have doubled the number of police officers on French beaches and prevented more than 10,000 attempts, secured nearly 300 arrests and 65 prosecutions.