This year marked the start of a new era for the British government, which has taken a ‘draconian’ step in lowering the number of asylum seekers who enter the country through illegal means.
It presented the Rwanda Bill, which states that asylum seekers who cross the English Channel in inflatable boats will be deported to Rwanda right away rather than being allowed to apply for a ‘refugee status’ with the UK government.
Despite numerous obstacles, including protests from human rights advocates, social media commotion, and opposition from the Prime Minister’s own party’s right-wing Conservatives, the bill remains in place today because of Sunak’s tireless efforts.
But, amidst the flurry of activity surrounding the new bill, one question remains central to the issue: why do they travel in small boats when there is a legal route to the UK?
Spotlight on Asylum seekers
A piece from the Conversation revealed the answer, explaining that one of the main reasons why they risk their lives crossing the Channel just to get to a safe country is because they don’t have a visa.
As things stand, the government has granted special visas to people escaping from Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and the Ukraine. The government has admitted 112,000 people to enter the UK through these methods in the preceding twelve months, including 64,000 Ukrainians.
This opportunity, however, is not extended to everyone. Refugees from other nations did not have the same options to apply for a visa in order to seek asylum, which forced them to risk their lives by travelling across dangerous waters.
Last year, 45,775 people were determined to have made the treacherous journey. While records of individuals attempting to reach the UK by crossing the Channel date back at least two decades, the migration observatory revealed the figures shot up drastically starting in 2018. Fortunately, the numbers have gone down considerably (around 10%) in the first half of 2023, recording a total of 11,500 people.
Still, as the government remains stern to completely ‘stop the boats’, this significant progress won’t make them revoke the bill.
Cover Photo: YouTube