Number of refugees crossing the Channel passes 18,000

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Number of refugees crossing the Channel passes 18,000

The number of refugees crossing the Channel this year has passed 18,000 after 337 crossed in small boats on Saturday, according to Ministry of Defence figures.

The newspaper report claimed that many of those who crossed the Channel in the past six weeks were economic migrants from Albania, not refugees.

The charities that support asylum seekers and victims of traffickers have criticised the claims.

The Mail on Sunday, which released the claim based on a leaked military intelligence report, analysts at an operations centre in Portsmouth used satellites and a fleet of drones to track 70 boats that made the crossing over a six-week period in June and July, and mapped the beaches from where they were launched.

Defence officials believe nine competing organised crime groups are targeting Britain, according to the military intelligence report.

Between 1 June and 12 July, 2,862 migrants were collectively smuggled across the Channel, with many of them obtaining their inflatable boats from manufacturers in China.

The reports say that 1,075 of those who made the crossing came from Albania, a country that the reports say is not a war zone.

charities disagree with the claim that Albania is a safe country even though it is not at war, and that those who cross the Channel from Albania are economic migrants.

One of the largest groups of children trafficked to the UK every year is Albanian young people, the charity Love 146, which works with young victims of trafficking. The charity said that the country not being at war did not mean that it was a safe place to be returned to.

Lauren Starkey, a social worker with the charity, tweeted: Violence, the threat of coercion, deception, debt bondage. The technique used to bring young Albanians to the UK was used. The country may not be at war, but it is not safe or peaceful for survivors of that abuse. A report released on Wednesday by UNHCR and British Red Cross warned of gaps in the UK asylum system, which means people seeking safety in the UK, including those fleeing modern slavery, may be at risk of potential exploitation after reaching the UK.

Freedom of Information obtained by the Scottish Refugee Council earlier this year revealed that Albanians were the fourth largest nationality group to cross the Channel in small boats in the year ending September 2019 after Iranians, Iraqis and Eritreans.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care 4 Calais, questioned the Mail on Sunday report and said that the majority of those crossing the Channel in small boats were refugees.

She said that the recent figures show a 55% acceptance rate for Albanian refugees, so the claim that they are all economic migrants may be presumptive. She called for the government to adopt a new approach, as current policies had not broken the business model of the smugglers, as home secretary Priti Patel promised they would and instead have resulted in record-breaking numbers crossing the Channel.

If we give visas for safe passage on the basis of screening for a viable asylum claim, to other refugees in a similar way to the Ukrainians, this would break the model of the people smugglers and save lives. The Home Office has been approached for comment.