Posted on Nov 26, 2021
The only two survivors of the sinking of an inflatable boat in the English Channel that claimed 27 lives this week – an Iraqi and a Somalian – reportedly met in a camp near Dunkirk as they waited to cross the Channel. They had both come into Europe via Belarus.
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, in response to sanctions imposed on his regime by the EU following rigged elections, is applying pressure on the EU by engineering a migration crisis on the Belarusian border with Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland.
Through the "weaponisation" of migration Lukashenko is seeking to pressure the EU into easing the sanctions. The EU, meanwhile, threatens more sanctions on Belarus.
“We are witnessing the reluctance of many European leaders at making any kind of deal with Lukashenko,” said Federica Infantino, a migration policy fellow at the European University Institute (EUI).
That the victims of Lukashenko's programme are finding their way towards Britain will come as no surprise to many.
The British government - which has dispatched troops to assist the Polish authorities deal with the current crisis - has effectively lost control of its own borders. More than 25,700 illegal migrants have arrived on the beaches of south-eastern England so far this year, a massive increase over the 2020 figure of 8,469. On one day alone, recently over 1,000 arrived.
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In the meantime, the number of arrests in connection with these crossings appears to have fallen significantly since last year.
The government recently revealed that 46 individuals were arrested by Immigration Enforcement in connection with illegal crossings in small boats from January to September 2021, during a period in which 17,086 people were reported as arriving without permission - an arrest rate of 0.3%.
In fact, the UK's Crown Prosecution Service has spelt out how, in its own somewhat twisted interpretation of the law, those entering without permission are in fact committing no offence.
It is unlikely that those who are simply occupants [of boats] would be prosecuted... If passengers are intercepted or rescued at sea it is unlikely that any offence of illegal entry has been committed in law. In cases involving the use of a boat where the sole intention is to be intercepted by BF (Border Force) at sea and brought into port for asylum claims to be made, no breach of immigration law will take place.The same applies where the intention is to sail the boat to a designated port of entry in order to claim asylum.
98% of arrivals claim political asylum. Home Secretary Priti Patel, however, confirmed herself that seven in ten of those who crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year are not genuine refugees but economic migrants who were already in safe countries prior to embarking.
"In the last 12 months alone 70% of the individuals who have come to our country illegally via small boats are single men, who are effectively economic migrants. They are not genuine asylum seekers," she told a meeting of the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee on October 27th.
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