Why do migrants risk lives coming to UK? British compassion and ‘abuse’ in safe countries

LBC 'illegal immigrant' caller describes how he got in UK for £7K

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A number of asylum seekers were nearly deported to Rwanda by the Government earlier this month in a new scheme to tackle rising numbers of people crossing the English Channel. But all were eventually removed from the plane at the 11th hour after legal challenges from the European Court of Human Rights.

The journey to England is extremely risky and can easily result in death, but many asylum seekers see no alternative, according to Helen O’Nions, Associate Professor at Nottingham Law School.

Associate Professor O’Nions explained that even in safe countries in Europe asylum seekers are subject to ‘abuse and degradation’ and many seek compassion in Britain.

She told Express.co.uk: “There is a standing population of migrants in northern France living in destitution, in camps lacking in basic hygiene, shelter and necessities.

“They are subjected to abuse and degradation from the authorities, and at high risk from criminal gangs or in some cases of being trafficked. There are unaccompanied minors as young as five in these camps.”

However, some members of the Government argued that asylum seekers should not be coming to the UK at all, and should begin their lives in safe countries they pass through.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told Parliament in February that economic migrants should not be reaching British shores, as they travel through other safe countries.

She said: “Economic migrants don’t need safe and legal routes, they should be claiming asylum in the other countries that they’re travelling through.”

About 28,431 migrants made the dangerous journey over the English Channel in 2021 according to figures compiled by the BBC.

Many small boats are rescued by charities such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which seeks to help those in danger at sea.

But right now there are not enough legal routes into the UK, according to Associate Professor O’Nions.

She said: “It is not possible to reach the UK to claim asylum via lawful methods of travel, unless you are one of the tiny number of asylum seekers resettled from a region of origin.

“86 percent of refugees remain in regions of origin effectively trapped by resources and geography. They cannot get a visa to come to the UK as an asylum seeker.

“Many asylum seekers prefer to come to the UK because of extended family ties, language competency, colonial or historical or conflict ties, and crucially because of its history of compassion and tolerance.”

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The Government has vowed to continue its efforts in reducing the number of migrants coming to the UK via the Rwanda scheme.

In a statement following the failed first departure to the east African country, Ms Patel hit out at those coming to the UK and said it is unfair on taxpayers who have to foot the bill.

She said: “It is not necessary – because they are coming from other safe countries. It is not fair – either on those who play by the rules, or on the British taxpayers, who have to foot this bill.”

But Associate Professor O’Nions said the scheme is not legal and that the money would be better spent elsewhere.

She explained: “The decision to process people in Rwanda is illegal, unworkable, and extremely expensive.

“The millions of pounds wasted would be much better allocated to fighting smuggling and trafficking gangs in France, rather than spent on demonising and frightening very vulnerable people who have endured incredible hardships.”

There were 48,540 asylum applications in the UK in 2021 according to Government figures, a rise of 63 percent and the highest number in nearly two decades.

By comparison, EU figures show that Germany received 190,545 asylum applications in 2021.

The French Embassy in London and the UK Home Office were contacted for comment.

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