Nearly 10,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the English Channel in small boats, Government figures have shown.
A total of 9,988 people have reached the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats such as dinghies since the start of 2022, according to analysis of Government data by the PA news agency.
It comes as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed 40 people were brought ashore on Friday in a single boat.
A total of 28,526 people made the crossing in 2021, compared with 8,466 in 2020, 1,843 in 2019 and 299 in 2018, according to official figures.
The MoD defines a “small boat” as one of a number of vessels used by individuals who cross the English Channel “with the aim of gaining entry to the UK without a visa or permission to enter – either directly by landing in the UK or having been intercepted at sea by the authorities and brought ashore”.
The most common small vessels detected making these types of crossings are rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), dinghies and kayaks.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she is “absolutely determined” that the UK will send migrants to Rwanda despite the prospect of legal challenges being mounted by human rights groups.
It comes as the Home Office has begun formally notifying migrants of their removal to Rwanda, with the first deportation flight expected to depart in two weeks.
The Government described the move as the “final administrative step” in its partnership with the east African nation, whereby people who are deemed to have entered the UK illegally will be encouraged to rebuild their lives thousands of miles away.
Responding to comments made on Monday by the chief executive of Freedom From Torture, Sonya Sceats, that the Rwanda plan is a “cash for humans scheme”, Ms Patel said that is “absolutely not right”.