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Channel crossings exceed 9,000 for the year

LONDON - Children wrapped in blankets were seen being carried ashore as the number of migrants who crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year surpassed 9,000.

Last week, 685 people arrived in five days and crossings continued on Monday.

Some 9,078 people have reached the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats like dinghies since the start of 2022, according to analysis of Government data by the PA news agency.

There were 234 people who made the crossing in five boats on Sunday, Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures show.

Women and young children were among the latest group pictured arriving in Dover, Kent, on Monday morning.

It comes as the UN’s refugee agency the UNHCR reiterated its concerns over the Government’s plan to deport migrants to Rwanda.

In a post on Twitter, it said: “Financial support abroad for certain refugee crises cannot replace the responsibility of States and the obligation to receive asylum seekers and protect refugees on their own territory – irrespective of race, nationality and mode of arrival.”

The comments follow a visit by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta to Geneva last week to meet representatives from the body, including its high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi.

According to the Home Office, Ms Patel and Mr Biruta reinforced their “commitment to working in collaboration with UN agencies” on the deportation plan and “emphasised” that claims will be processed in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention.

But afterwards, Mr Grandi said he had reiterated his concerns about the deal and that the UNHCR “will continue proposing concrete solutions that respect international law”, adding: “Shifting asylum responsibilities is not the solution.”

Meanwhile, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said the number being sent to the east African nation is “more likely to be in the hundreds” each year, adding that he wanted to “manage expectations” about the plan to give people deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally a one-way ticket.

When announced last month, Boris Johnson said tens of thousands of people could be flown there under the deal in the years ahead.

Campaigners who have lodged legal challenges against the Rwanda policy said they received notice that first flights will now not take place until at least June 6.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, reiterated calls for the Rwanda policy to be scrapped, adding: “Once again, these figures show that people seeking asylum will continue to make these perilous journeys – whether by boat or other means – if the Government doesn’t provide safe alternatives for them.

“If ministers truly cared about the fate of people risking their lives to cross the Channel, they would seek an agreement with France over safe routes, including for people with family and other connections here.”