Hundreds of people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel, with several charities saying the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan showed why they risked their lives to flee.
It followed the first day of landing more than two weeks ago on Sunday, after a series of bad weather brought the crossings to a halt. A Home Office source said reports of 1,000 migrants entering the UK via the Channel in one day are an exaggeration, and believed the number would be between 800 and 850.
The government is not expected to confirm any numbers before Tuesday morning but the previous record was 828 on August 21.
It is understood that the lifeboat charity RNLI had a particularly busy day in southeast England while assisting the Border Force with rescue operations.
“Refugees feel there is no choice but to cross the canal in flimsy boats because the government is refusing to open alternative routes to safety,” said Tim Nauer Hilton, CEO of Refugee Action.
The horrific images we saw in Afghanistan showed what is forcing people to leave their country. This same terrorism is happening in other countries like Eritrea, Iran, Sudan and other places.”
A crowded lifeboat was among those photographed arriving on a beach in Dungeness, Kent, on Monday, and officials were seen driving its passengers away.
A woman was seen desperately clinging to a small child strapped to her body.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “The government must realize that at a time when there is war, persecution and violence, people will be forced to undertake dangerous journeys in search of safety.
We are talking about ordinary men, women and children who were forced to flee their homes through no fault of their own. The odds are stacked against them but they are struggling to survive.”
Sunday was the first time in more than two weeks that small boats had crossed the canal due to previously bad weather, with 158 people, including five children, arriving in Dover from four boats.
Those arrivals brought the total number of people who crossed into the UK on small boats this year to more than 12,500 before Monday’s touchdown, according to data compiled by the Palestinian News Agency.
Solomon added: “This government should change its approach and rather than seek to penalize or turn people away from safety for the type of trip they have taken to the UK, they should create and stick to safer routes.
“As a nation, we can save lives and empower people, who have already been through so much, to give back to the communities that welcome them.”
The number of crossings in 2021 far exceeded last year’s total of 8,417, and the number continues to rise on days of fair weather. The UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum applications than many of its European counterparts.
Dan O’Mahony, the channel’s covert threat commander at the Home Office, said: “This unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and an increase in illegal immigration across Europe.
“We are determined to target criminals at all levels, and so far we have secured nearly 300 arrests and 65 convictions and have prevented more than 10,000 immigration attempts.”
“The government’s new immigration plan is the only reliable way to fix the broken asylum system,” he added.
Boris Johnson said in Parliament on Monday that Home Secretary Priti Patel was “working around the clock” to ensure France prevents migrants from reaching Britain.
“A large number of people want to come to this country, and we are doing everything we can to encourage the French to do what is necessary and to obstruct their passage,” the prime minister said.