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No migrants have arrived in small boats across the English Channel for nearly ten days in what is being claimed as an early victory for the Government’s new scheme for sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The last migrants to arrive at Dover in Kent were a total of 263 across seven small boats on April 19 – and Ministry of Justice data has revealed not a single adult or child has made it across since, up to and including yesterday.

It also comes amid a new strategy to deal with Channel migrants launched on April 14 which saw the military take charge of attempts to control crossings with a joint task force drawn from the Navy, Army and Air Force in Kent.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said today that the drop to zero was evidence that Home Secretary Priti Patel‘s scheme, which will see asylum seekers sent 4,000 miles to claim refugee status from Rwanda, is ‘working already’.

The controversial agreement with the East African nation, which will see it receive asylum seekers deemed by the UK to have arrived ‘illegally’ and therefore inadmissible under new immigration rules, was signed on April 14.

Mr Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire, tweeted: ‘Priti’s migrant policy is working already. No illegal migrant crossing for a week and no income for people traffickers, freeing up civil servants to work on Ukrainian evacuees. We should offer the illegal migrants already here the option of returning to France or going to Rwanda.’

But former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told GB News: ‘There are some saying Rwanda is working, it’s a success because virtually no migrants have come now for the last six or seven days. Believe you me, I know this subject.

‘That is nothing to do with the prospect of being shipped off to Rwanda. It’s because there has been a persistent, strong, north-easterly wind in the English Channel. When it gets calm again, the boats will continue to come.’

The last migrants to arrive at Dover were a total of 263 across seven small boats on April 19 (arrivals pictured on that day)

The last migrants to arrive at Dover were a total of 263 across seven small boats on April 19 (arrivals pictured on that day)

The last migrants to arrive at Dover were a total of 263 across seven small boats on April 19 (arrivals pictured on that day)

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen

Home Secretary Priti Patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen (left) said today that the drop in migrants arriving in small boats to zero was evidence that the Rwanda scheme from Home Secretary Priti Patel (right) is ‘working already’

 

Up to 300 military servicemen, Navy ships and surveillance drones are being deployed to the Channel after the Armed Forces took control with the Navy assuming Border Force’s responsibility for intercepting migrant boats.

An RAF Wildcat helicopter is now the key military asset in the air and is being used to carry out a final ‘sweep’ of the Channel at the end of each day to ensure all migrants – and their dinghies – have been recovered.

Priti Patel faces High Court challenges over Rwanda plan for migrants

Home Secretary Priti Patel is facing High Court challenges over controversial plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The charity Freedom From Torture, which supports survivors of torture who are often asylum seekers and refugees, wrote to the Home Office yesterday requesting further information, with a view to bringing a High Court claim over the policy.

The first step towards another challenge, from charities Detention Action and Care4Calais – and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union which represents the majority of Border Force staff, was taken on Tuesday when they sent a pre-action letter to the Home Office.

A letter from Freedom From Torture’s legal representatives, Leigh Day, says that, while a memorandum of understanding between the UK and Rwanda has been published, information about the policy has not been made publicly available. It also says the charity has ‘serious concerns’ about the policy and in due course plans to bring a judicial review.

The charity is asking for any document which sets out the policy of relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda, any guidance or rules provided to Home Office staff or other UK officials, any documents relating to co-operation with Rwanda, and any equality impact or risk assessments carried out in relation to the policy. The letter requests that any response is sent by 4pm on May 4, and the charity plans to crowdfund to cover legal costs of the case.

Meanwhile, representatives for Detention Action, Care4Calais and the PCS have sent a letter which challenges ‘the Home Secretary’s failure to disclose the criteria dictating which people seeking asylum will be transferred by force to East Africa and which will remain in the UK’, according to a joint press release. Those groups are also crowdfunding to cover the costs of the possible legal action and are represented by Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

Freedom From Torture, the PCS and Care4Calais were involved in a challenge due to be heard next week against the Home Secretary over plans to ‘push back’ migrants in boats crossing the Channel, but the planned policy was withdrawn on Sunday.

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The helicopter is being aided by RAF drones operated out of Lydd Airport in Kent. Soldiers and airmen are also now being based at Dover to help UK Border Force staff with initial processing, and the military are able to issue directions to civilian staff of the UK Border Force, whose ships are remaining part of the Channel taskforce.

Seven ships including HMS Tyne, plus smaller boats and a helicopter are being made available to patrol the sea and coastline, so Border Force staff can be freed up for processing migrants once they arrive on land.

More than 6,500 migrants are thought to have arrived in the UK this year so far after crossing the Channel. In 2021 some 28,526 migrants reached UK shores aboard dinghies and small boats – up from 8,417 in 2020.

The total number of migrants arriving so far this month has been 2,143 across 58 small boats, although the final day of arrivals to the present date was on April 19 when 263 were intercepted across seven small boats.  

In March this year, 3,066 people made the crossing. That was nearly four times the amount recorded for the same month in 2021 (831) and more than 16 times the amount for 2020 (187).

It was also the fourth highest monthly total recorded since the start of 2020, behind July (3,510), September (4,652) and November (6,869) last year.

The figures for April 2022 mean the total number of migrants to arrive so far this year is 6,693 across 204 boats.

Some 1,425 of these had made it across since the Royal Navy took over control of migrant operations in the Channel on April 14.

Earlier this month,  the UK’s former Border Force chief Tony Smith told the Daily Mail that more than 100,000 Channel migrants will reach Britain this year.

Backing the Government’s asylum deal with Rwanda, Mr Smith said: ‘There comes a point where we need to get a grip of our border and stop the boats.

‘The numbers are going up, a fourfold increase already this year – 28,500 last year,’ he added. ‘That’s going to be over 100,000 this year just by migrant boats alone.’

Mr Smith’s prediction would be nearly 12 times the level seen in 2020, 54 times that of 2019 and more than 300 times that in 2018.

In January, it emerged that the Home Office had produced official papers warning that 65,000 migrants could cross this year. 

Meanwhile the Archbishop of Canterbury again waded into the row over the Government’s Rwanda plan yesterday.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said there were serious ‘ethical questions’ about using ‘deterrence’ to stop asylum seekers reaching the UK.

‘The Church of England is not a passive observer of migration policy,’ he wrote in the Daily Telegraph. ‘Some of my fellow bishops, clergy and worshippers came to the UK escaping persecution or conflict.

A record 28,395 migrants reached the UK illegally last year in small boats over the Channel, a 200 per cent increase on 2020

A record 28,395 migrants reached the UK illegally last year in small boats over the Channel, a 200 per cent increase on 2020

A record 28,395 migrants reached the UK illegally last year in small boats over the Channel, a 200 per cent increase on 2020

‘We welcome and serve asylum seekers at every level of society – from providing housing, food banks, social support and friendship, to scrutinising legislation in the Lords. 

Archbishop repeats his attack on Rwanda plan 

The Archbishop of Canterbury again waded into the row over the Government’s Rwanda plan yesterday.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said there were serious ‘ethical questions’ about using ‘deterrence’ to stop asylum seekers reaching the UK.

‘The Church of England is not a passive observer of migration policy,’ he wrote in the Daily Telegraph. ‘Some of my fellow bishops, clergy and worshippers came to the UK escaping persecution or conflict.

‘We welcome and serve asylum seekers at every level of society – from providing housing, food banks, social support and friendship, to scrutinising legislation in the Lords. We partner with the Government to settle refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine … government and Church are not the same, but we must surely all want to put humanity and fairness at the heart of our asylum system.’

The new immigration policy will see asylum seekers who cross the Channel sent for processing in Rwanda, where they will have the right to apply to live.

The Archbishop previously said the policy would not stand up to the scrutiny of God, prompting Boris Johnson to accuse him of being ‘less vociferous’ in his condemnation of Putin than he was in his attack on the policy.

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‘We partner with the Government to settle refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine … government and Church are not the same, but we must surely all want to put humanity and fairness at the heart of our asylum system.’

The new immigration policy will see asylum seekers who cross the Channel sent for processing in Rwanda, where they will have the right to apply to live.

The Archbishop previously said the policy would not stand up to the scrutiny of God, prompting Boris Johnson to accuse him of being ‘less vociferous’ in his condemnation of Putin than he was in his attack on the policy.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the deal is about trying to ’empower’ asylum seekers. ‘It’s always been a partnership based on resettlement, rebuilding lives,’ she added. 

In a speech earlier this month outlining the Rwanda agreement, Ms Patel said: ‘The British people are fair and generous when it comes to helping those in need, but the persistent circumventing of our laws and immigration rules and the reality of a system that is open to gaming and criminal exploitation has eroded public support for Britain’s asylum system and those that genuinely need access to it.

‘Putting evil people smugglers out of business is a moral imperative. It requires us to use every tool at our disposal – and also to find new solutions. That is why today’s migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda is such a major milestone.

‘This agreement fully complies with all international and national law, and as part of this ground-breaking agreement, the UK is making a substantial investment in the economic development of Rwanda.’

And a Home Office spokesman told MailOnline today: ‘This world-leading Migration and Economic Development Partnership will overhaul our broken asylum system, which is currently costing the UK taxpayer £1.5billion a year – the highest amount in two decades.

‘It means those arriving dangerously, illegally or unnecessarily can be relocated to have their asylum claims considered and, if recognised as refugees, build their lives there.

‘There is nothing in the UN Refugee Convention which prevents removal to a safe country. Under this agreement, Rwanda will process claims in accordance with national and international human rights laws.’

Source: Daily Mail

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