Charities call for safe routes for migrants to claim asylum in UK

Charities have criticised the lack of legal routes to claim asylum in the UK from abroad after a record number of migrants were confirmed to have crossed the Channel in small boats on Friday. The Home Office has confirmed 145 people, including 51 onboard an inflatable boat, were brought ashore on 8 May after making the perilous journey across the channel. Pictures taken at Dover port on Saturday showed people wearing facemasks being processed by Border Force officials. A large number of those who arrived in the UK over the weekend presented themselves as Iranian, Afghan, Yemini, Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Syrian nationals. Since lockdown was announced in Britain on 23 March, at least 836 migrants have been intercepted by UK authorities and brought ashore, according to data gathered by PA Media. “Many people fleeing war and persecution feel forced to put their lives into the hands of criminal smugglers because there are no safe and legal routes to claim asylum in the UK,” said Stephen Hale, the chief executive of Refugee Action. This means creating more ways for people to claim protection in the UK, including a long-term commitment to resettle 10,000 refugees every year.” Clare Moseley, the founder of charity Care4Calais, said coronavirus had made migrants’ bad situations life-threateningly worse. That’s the way to end chaotic and dangerous channel crossings once and for all.” Fizza Qureshi, the co-chief executive of Migrants’ Rights Network, said the dire conditions in France’s camps had become even worse and that the UK government could have stepped up efforts to reunite families rather than letting people languish. We urgently need safe and legal routes to enable people to reunite with their families.” The home secretary, Priti Patel, said on Thursday that the rise in migrants making the journey on boats across the channel was linked to lockdown road restrictions at the border. On Sunday, Chris Philp, the minister for immigration compliance and the courts, said: “We are all working night and day to dismantle and arrest the criminal gangs who trade in people-smuggling. “The recent increase in crossings is totally unacceptable and it is sickening that smugglers are willing to put people’s lives at risk, including children. Italians have been experiencing further virus-containment restrictions after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a nationwide lockdown on personal movement on March 9.