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Could the UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda already be having the desired effect?
According to the Ministry of Defence, no migrants have been detected crossing the English Channel in small boats for the past five days. By contrast, Tuesday 19 April saw 263 migrants detected in 7 boats, bringing the total number of people who have been brought ashore this year to more than 6,000.
Priti Patel hopes the £120m trial to send migrants to the East African country will disrupt the people-smuggling trade and prevent deaths.
Supporters of the Rwanda scheme say the announcement by the Home Office is already deterring people from embarking on the treacherous journey to Britain.
But the headline figure does not give us the full picture of recent refugee numbers. The data does not include individuals who arrive in Britain on smaller vessels or secretly on larger vessels like ferries or lorries.
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The Royal Navy may also be playing a key role in patrolling coastal waters after the Home Secretary’s controversial “push-back” policy was dropped.
In France, officials claim to have stepped up the security operation to stop migrants from reaching the Kent coastline. According to a report from Frontex, half of all illegal immigrants were stopped by French authorities between January and March.
Some believe the lack of small boats are due to adverse weather conditions, with average winds of 20 knots, although that has not stopped many in past from going out to sea in the past.
Authoritative data on small boat arrivals will be included in the quarterly “Irregular migration to the UK” report which will provide a more detailed picture as to whether a “deterrent” effect is taking place.