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LONDON: Immigration by boat across the English Channel has doubled in the first five months of the year from levels in 2021, with migrants from Afghanistan now representing almost a quarter of the total.

Figures released by the UK government show 10,057 people have been detained by the UK Border Force after crossing the Channel so far this year, up from 4,200 for the same period 12 months ago.

Throughout 2021, 28,526 people crossed the Channel by boat in total — itself a massive increase on the 8,410 people who made the journey in 2020.

The UK Home Office claims about 24 percent of those being detained have traveled from Afghanistan. Numbers of migrants from the troubled country, now the most numerous demographic being picked up by the Border Force on the south coast of England, have continued to increase since the Taliban retook control in August 2021, following the withdrawal of Western forces.

In 2021, just 1,323 Afghans made the journey across the Channel — or about 5 percent of the total.

Iranian migrants, meanwhile, make up the second largest group, at about 16 percent, slightly ahead of people coming to the UK from Iraq, who represent 15 percent of the total.

UK Under-Secretary of State for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration Tom Pursglove told The Times newspaper: “The rise in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable.

“Not only are they an overt abuse of our immigration laws but they also impact on the UK taxpayer, risk lives and our ability to help refugees come to the UK via safe and legal routes. Rightly, the British public has had enough.

“Through our Nationality and Borders Bill, we’re cracking down on people smugglers and fixing the broken system by making it a criminal offense to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally and introducing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those who facilitate illegal entry into our country.”

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