People could be seen packing themselves onto a dangerously-low-lying dinghy off the coast of France on Saturday as they prepared to make the perilous journey across the English Channel, which has already claimed the lives of seven this year.
More than 30 people were crammed onto the tiny craft, with dozens more wading into chest-deep water in a bid to pile onboard too.
The boat was seen pitching dangerously in the water as men and women pulled more migrants and asylum seekers from the deep water, with some holding precious belongings or children above their heads to protect them from the ocean.
More than 24,000 people have so far risked their lives to cross one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in 2023, arriving in the UK on various boats – many after being intercepted by the UK Border Force or the RNLI.
It comes as Home Secretary Suella Braverman refused to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss migration, after he previously said the government’s policies are ‘against the judgment of God.’
Dozens of people attempt to cram onto a single, low-lying dinghy in the Channel on Saturday morning
Despite the dinghy already appearing full, at least 32 men, women and children could be seen trying to reach it before it set off
Despite the significant distance between the dinghy and the shore, many were determined to try and climb aboard
Men, women and children were pictured running down the French beach on Saturday in a bid to reach the overcrowded dinghy before it left for UK waters – with several clutching tiny infants in their arms.
At least 32 ran down the sands of the beach, close to Sangette, while images showed at least 36 people already on board.
Some appeared to hold inflatable rubber rings, while others held oars, with people stacked on both sides of the craft as well as a hidden number of others in the middle.
Many had their legs dangling into the water as they perched precariously on the edge.
Although many of those seeking to reach the boat did make it aboard, some were too late and were forced to turn back due to the threat of it sinking.
There has been heightened focus on people smugglers this summer after figures showed the number of people being loaded onto each boat has reached a record high.
An average of 47 people are aboard each boat which arrives in the UK this year, compared to just 14 in 2020.
But in August alone, that figure rose to a record 55 people per boat – marking a callous disregard for human life from the gangs charging thousands of pounds a head.
Seven people have been killed attempting to make the crossing so far in 2023, with countless others having to be rescued in lifesaving missions involving French and British authorities.
Just this week a 24-year-old woman from Eritrea was found dead on a beach in Calais after falling off a small boat in the Channel.
More than 40 people can be seen in this image captured on Saturday – with the real number of those on board likely to be higher
Some appeared to hold inflatable rubber rings, while others held oars
Men and women could be seen clutching tiny infants as they tried to reach the craft, already some way out to sea
It follows the deaths of six people after a boat got into serious trouble carrying more than 50 people on August 12.
A huge emergency response including the deployment of a helicopter took place after the craft tipped over in the middle of the ocean, killing Afghans who had fled the Taliban.
The government has routinely come under pressure over allegations there is no way for refugees to make it to the UK legally.
But Suella Braverman delivered a speech this week in which she announced plans to restrict asylum seekers further, stating it is not sufficient reason to grant asylum if women or members of the LGBT+ community fear persecution.
It is still illegal to be gay in dozens of countries across the world, with around a dozen nations still imposing the death penalty.
She also accused LGBT+ people of lying about their identity in order to gain asylum – a claim which has not been backed up by any evidence.
Those who were unsuccessful were seen returning to shore and comforting one another
There were already many onboard the dinghy before dozens of people were pictured rushing into the sea to catch it
Several people appeared to decide the craft was to risky and returned to the French shore
Among those to raise concerns has been the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who was said to have reached out to the Home Secretary and appealed for talks about migration policy.
However Ms Braverman has so far refused a meeting.
A source, who is a former senior adviser to the 26 bishops who sit in the Lords, told House magazine of the impact the ‘snub’ had unleashed on Lambeth House.
They said: ‘There was shock internally. It was a big slap in the face.’
The source added that relations between bishops and ministers is ‘really toxic’. The Archbishop has met with Home Secretaries in the past and it is not an unusual occurrence.
Welby previously described the government’s Rwanda plan as ‘against the judgment of God.’
It comes as public concern over immigration hits its highest level in six years, with 26 percent of adults naming it as one of the most important issues facing the UK today – although it was not said whether those concerned were for or against the government’s policies.
Ipsos, which polled 1,000 adults for its monthly survey on the key issues on the minds of UK adults, said concern over immigration was at its highest since July 2017. Overall, the economy still topped voters’ concerns – mentioned by 37 per cent of those polled – followed by inflation at 30 per cent and the NHS at 28 per cent.