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Asylum claims in UK peak in 20 years amid Channel migrant crisis

Asylum claims in the UK have reached their highest level in nearly 20 years amid the ongoing migrant crisis in the Channel, government data has revealed.

Statistics released by the Home Office on Thursday showed that the number of asylum applications lodged in the UK reached its highest quarterly level since January to March 2003, with 15,104 people seeking asylum between July and September.

The total number of asylum claims lodged in the 12-month period to September was 37,562. This is also the highest number of claims lodged in a 12-month period since 2004.

Two-thirds of the new applicants during this period were migrants who crossed the Channel in small boats from France, The temperature reported.

More than 25,000 migrants have crossed the Channel illegally this year, about three times the number of last year, with an attempted trip resulting in the deaths of at least 27 people on Wednesday, including a pregnant woman.

While the main driver of the increase in the number of asylum seekers has been the ongoing crisis in the Channel, the Chinese coronavirus has also had an effect, the government said.

“The increase in requests is likely linked in part to the easing of global travel restrictions that were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increase in small boat arrivals in the UK, almost of which all seek asylum, “he added. The Home Office said, stressing that requests had dropped “substantially” during the first coronavirus outbreak.

The Home Office also said the pandemic was having a “significant impact on Britain’s immigration system”, limiting its “operational capacity” to manage migration.

The rapid rise in the number of migrants arriving on UK shores has put a strain on the country’s infrastructure, with newly arrived migrants being transported up to 500 miles to Scotland for their asylum claims to be processed.

Meanwhile, recent migrant deaths in the Channel have fueled tensions between the UK and France.

Both sides accused the other of not doing enough to alleviate the crisis, with an open letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for more cooperation sparking outrage from French officials.

“We do not communicate from one leader to another on these topics like this via tweets or by making public letters,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, who went on to say he was ready to work with the British “when they decide to be serious about it”.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has criticized the British government’s inaction during the crisis, saying the Home Office and Home Secretary Priti Patel are “not fit for purpose”.

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