Channel crossings: Thousands of asylum seekers suffering from hypothermia on arrival to UK

Channel crossings: Thousands of asylum seekers suffering from hypothermia on arrival to UK
New data released Monday revealed that two-thirds of asylum seekers were suffering from hypothermia after they travelled on a small boat across the English Channel.
2 min read
14 February, 2022
Many of those taking the dangerous journey across the Channel are fleeing war, poverty and persecution [source: Getty]

Two-thirds of asylum seekers arriving in the UK by small boat across the English Channel were suffering from hypothermia, according to Home Office data published Monday.

Data obtained via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by The Guardian revealed that from January to June 2021, 4,075 newly arrived migrants had hypothermia when they reached the Kent coast.

In total, around 6,000 people made the perilous journey during that period according to analysis by the Press Association. 

The FoI request also found that 354 people had petrol or saltwater burns sustained on the crossing, and 27 were taken to hospital with suspected broken bones. 

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“These are important but, tragically, by no means surprising findings," Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said to The New Arab. 

"It is very common for the men, women and children forced to take these petrifying, life-threatening journeys to arrive in the UK extremely unwell and traumatised given all they been through. It is imperative the government establishes safe routes to stop journeys happening to start with." 

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has repeatedly called Channel crossing “absolutely unnecessary”.

The Tory minister purported that the government’s New Plan for Immigration will offer “a longer-term solution [to] address many of these underlying factors to deterring illegal migration”. 

However, refugee advocates told The New Arab the bill will only curtail the rights of refugees, and expressed concerns over the current lack of safe legal routes for asylum seekers coming to Britain. 

Just last year, at least 27 people drowned in the Channel when their small boat capsized off the French coast. Two people were critically ill in hospital with severe hypothermia after the incident. 

"Our research shows clearly that two-thirds of all people coming across the Channel will ultimately be given refugee protection," said Solomon. 

"If they had access to resettlement schemes, family reunion routes and, crucially, humanitarian visas, they would not have to risk their lives by scrambling into flimsy boats for a chance to be safe."

This article was updated on 14 February at 17:10 GMT to include comments received from the Refugee Council.