More than 3,000 people crossed the English Channel in small boats last month – as arrivals continue to outstrip 2021 by more than double.
The number for June – the highest monthly total this year – appears to cast doubt on government claims that its Rwanda scheme will lead to fewer people risking their lives in dinghies.
Nearly 7,000 people have made the perilous crossing since Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the policy on 14 April, according to data collected and analysed by Sky News.
The scheme has been criticised as “cruel and nasty” by charities but defended by the government as “the morally right thing to do”.
At least 12,700 people have succeeded in reaching the UK aboard small boats in the first half of 2022, Sky News data shows.
Numbers so far this year have been consistently at least double the figures for 2021, which itself saw a huge increase on the previous year.
The upward trend in crossings – with more and more people being packed aboard often unseaworthy boats – has alarmed charities and aid organisations who have called for safe and legal routes to be established.
Sky News analysis of crossings in 2022 shows that on average more than 33 people are now travelling aboard each small boat – up from about 27 last year and a huge rise on 13 in 2020.
Some 28,526 people crossed the Channel in small boats last year, according to official figures, but this is expected to almost double in 2022, according to a union representing Border Force workers.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
The government’s estimate of nearly 60,000 arrivals was made before Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking a huge refugee crisis in eastern Europe.
On 14 April, Ms Patel signed what she described as a “world-first” agreement with Rwanda, which will see the east African nation receive asylum seekers deemed by the UK to have arrived “illegally” and therefore inadmissible under new immigration rules.
But the first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded amid legal challenges.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has since announced plans to ignore European rulings blocking Rwanda deportations.
Despite the increasing numbers, the UK’s small boat arrivals are a fraction of the number of people arriving in Europe.
At least 46,964 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea in 2022, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Some 777 people are believed to have died or are missing after undertaking the journey in the first six months of this year alone, the UNHCR says.