London - Britain has unveiled legislation to stop migrants crossing the Channel illegally on small boats, with tens of thousands making the dangerous journey last year.

The government is under pressure to solve the problem, but also respect international law and share the burden of the global refugee crisis.

Here are some figures behind the political debate:


- Channel crossings -

Almost 88,000 people have made the crossing of one of the world's busiest waterways since 2018, when a French crackdown at the port of Calais and Channel Tunnel led migrants to take to boats.

A record 45,755 arrived in the UK on small craft in 2022, compared with 28,526 in 2021, according to government data.

More than 3,000 people have arrived on the English coast already in 2023, compared with 1,500 by this time last year.

Nationals from Iran and Iraq made up the vast majority of those arriving in the beginning, with a sharp increase in migrants from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria, Sudan and Vietnam recorded in 2020 and 2021.


More than 12,000 of those arriving in 2022 came from Albania, almost 4,000 more than any other nationality and a 1,400 percent rise on 2021.

But the number of Albanians making the crossing fell sharply in the final quarter of 2022, dropping from 9,037 to 1,099. London and Tirana have now reached an agreement on resettlement.

Nearly 90 percent of arrivals are men or boys, and over three quarters are between the age of 18 and 40.

Each boat carried on average more than 40 people in the second half of 2022, compared with fewer than 10 in 2018.


UK Border Force escort rescued migrants ashore in Dover, southeast England. Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP


- Total attempts to enter UK irregularly -

There were 54,090 attempts to enter the UK illegally in 2022, with small boat crossings making up around 85 percent of that total.

The annual figure compares with 13,377 in 2018, the first year Channel crossings were detected, when they made up only two percent of the total.

Migrants undeterred by recent Channel deaths, charities say (Dec 2022)


- Asylum applications and decisions -

A total of 74,751 people applied for asylum in the UK in 2022, a 49 percent increase on 2021, with nationals from Albania and Afghanistan topping the list.

Of the 18,699 applications processed in 2022, 14,275 were successful, an approval rate of 76 percent.

More than 160,000 people were awaiting a decision as of the end of December 2022, with most having waited more than six months.

They are forbidden to work pending a decision, and the government says the asylum system now costs the British taxpayer £3 billion ($3.6 billion) a year.


Inflatable dinghies and outboard engines used by migrants trying to cross the English Channel. Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP


- European comparison -

Around 924,000 people applied for asylum in European Union member states in 2022, a rise of 50 percent, according to the EU.

Of the 632,355 asylum applications processed in the EU last year, 310,400 resulted in a positive outcome.

Germany granted 128,460 out of 197,549 requests processed in 2022, while France granted 35,540 out of 129,735.

A total of 187,993 people entered the EU illegally in 2022, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Number of asylum applications in the EU, Norway and Switzerland in 2022, by applicant's country of origin

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