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Tens of thousands of migrants have reached Britain in recent years. FILE.

Migrants drown in English Channel, Sunak says nothing will stop Rwanda policy

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Five people, including a child, died in an attempt to cross the English Channel from France on Tuesday, hours after Britain passed a bill to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda to try to deter the dangerous crossings.
The deaths occurred after an overcrowded small boat carrying around 110 people set out to cross one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The French coastguard was still searching for any survivors.
Stopping the flow of migrants is a priority for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government. Sunak says the Rwanda plan will act as a deterrent. Human rights groups and other critics say it is inhumane. They cite concerns about the East African country’s own human rights record and the risk asylum seekers may be sent back to countries where they face danger.

Sunak promised on Monday to start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks as the upper house of parliament finally passed the required legislation, delayed for weeks by attempts to alter the plan.

Sunak said the government had booked commercial charter planes and trained staff to take migrants to Rwanda, a policy he hopes will boost his Conservative Party’s flagging fortunes before an election later this year.

The House of Lords refused to back the divisive legislation without additional safeguards but relented after Sunak said the government would force parliament to sit as late into Monday night as necessary to get it passed.

Tens of thousands of migrants, many fleeing wars and poverty in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, have reached Britain in recent years by crossing the English Channel in small boats on risky journeys organised by people-smuggling gangs.

More than 6,000 have arrived in Britain already this year, a rise of around a quarter on the same period last year.

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