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Migrant Channel crossings what you need to know Channel crossings safe countries in the EUChannel crossings why nowLegal and illegal explainedWe need safe and legal routes

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CHANNEL CROSSINGS: what you need to know

Why do people travel on from 'safe countries' like France to the UK?

Most people crossing to the UK in small boats have fled war and persecution from places like Syria and Iran. Most will eventually be granted refugee status here.

There are many reasons why people travel onwards from France. Some will be rejoining family in the UK, others will have faced trafficking and exploitation in France.

Why are so many people making the crossing right now?


There are often more journeys in summer, as crossings are perceived as less dangerous in good weather.

This year the situation has also been particularly desperate for many seeking refuge as the Syrian resettlement programme closed in March, many have been evicted from camps in Calais and the pandemic has plunged many into great need.

The number of people travelling to the UK is still relatively small - France, Germany, Greece and Italy all receive more asylum claims.

Why don't people seeking asylum come to the UK 'legally'?

Unfortunately, asylum claims cannot be made from outside the UK so people are forced into making dangerous crossings to seek refuge here. Almost no safe & legal routes to seek asylum in the UK exist.

Using irregular means to enter the UK does not impinge on your right to apply for asylum here. This right is enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention.

What should the government do to end dangerous crossings?

To prevent dangerous crossings, we need safe and legal routes of entry to the UK, including:

  • Humanitarian visas - these would grant people papers for safe passage to the UK
  • Asylum claims centres abroad - these could process asylum claims in France for example
  • Resettlement programmes - transfer recognised refugees from an asylum country like Syria to a third country like the UK
  • Expanded family reunion rules - allowing refugees to join non-refugee family in the UK

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