More than 8,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel this year, new figures show.
In the first five months of this year, 8,393 people have reached the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats, according to an analysis of government data.
This is more than double recorded for the same period in 2021 (3,112) and more than six times the amount recorded by this point in 2020 (1,340).
This weekend, more than 600 people arrived in Kent after four consecutive days last week without any Channel crossings taking place amid poor weather conditions.
Some 436 people made the crossing to the UK in nine boats on Saturday after 167 in 13 boats arrived on Sunday, according to Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures.
There have been nine days of crossings so far in May, with 1,700 people arriving in the UK as a result.
The highest daily total for 2022 to date was recorded on 13 April when 651 people made the crossing in 18 boats.
A record 1,185 people made the crossing to the UK on November 11 2021 – the highest recorded since the start of 2020.
‘Cruel and nasty’ Rwanda plan
Under new plans, announced by the Home Office earlier this month, those who cross into the UK illegally will be sent to Rwanda.
The first group of asylum seekers that could be given a one-way ticket to the African country were to be notified this week – with those successfully claiming asylum to be given refugee status in the country.
In an interview with the Daily Mail this weekend, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said 50 migrants have already been told they are due to be flown to the east African nation within a fortnight but he anticipated legal opposition to the move.
The Rwanda plan has been described as “cruel and nasty” by charities and “opposite the nature of God” by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But the prime minister has argued that it will deter people from making perilous Channel crossings in small boats and is “morally the right thing to do”.
The first flights are expected to take place in the coming months.
Despite the increasing numbers, the UK’s small boat arrivals are a fraction of the number of people arriving in Europe.
Data from the UN’s refugee agency shows at least 120,441 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea in 2021.