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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Thursday evening UK news briefing: Emmanuel Macron warns Boris Johnson not to ‘exploit’ migrant crisis

Despite the risks and the evidence of the devastating consequences when things go wrong, still migrants continue to make the journey to the UK. 

Dozens more desperate families attempted to cross the Channel to Britain this morning, with an RNLI lifeboat and Border Force vessel BF Valiant intercepting two flimsy boats. 

The image above, showing what is thought to be what remains of the vessel which capsized seven miles off the coast of France on Wednesday, shows the dangers faced by those putting their lives in the hands of smugglers. 

Our liveblog will keep you up to date with all the developments on this ongoing human crisis.

‘Pull factors’ to UK

Why, then, do people think it is worth taking such risks? Earlier, Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, said the “attractiveness” of the British job market was one of the reasons that people keep trying to cross. 

Ms Patel has urged that “pull factors” that draw illegal migrants to the UK must be addressed. 

Some migrants will be fleeing persecution for their politics or sexuality. 

Others will be leaving wartorn countries such as Afghanistan after its fall to the Taliban, Syria or Iraq. 

Europe Editor James Crisps analyses what motivates people to attempt the perilous crossing and what they have to go through as they make the journey.

France backtracks

To give an idea of the scale of the crisis, 25,700 people, more than three times the numbers who made the crossing last year, have attempted to reach Britain by sea this year. 

Asylum claims made in the UK have risen to their highest level for nearly 20 years amid a surge in Channel crossings, according to new figures from the Home Office. 

The backlog of cases waiting to be dealt with is also at a record high. 

Yet despite the huge numbers of people, hurdles remain in bringing those responsible to justice. 

France today backtracked on claims to have arrested smugglers behind the migrant tragedy that saw at least 27 drown.

Covid briefing: Latest essential headlines

Around the world: Haile Gebraselassie set to join war

All British nationals in Ethiopia have been told to leave “immediately” as it was announced the country’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister has left to fight on the frontline against rebels advancing on the capital. The news came as Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie said he was ready to trade in his running shoes for army boots and head to the frontline to fight alongside prime minister Abiy Ahmed, according to state media. Gebrselassie is regarded as a living legend in Ethiopia, akin to David Beckham in the UK. His comments are being seen as a clear attempt to rally public support behind the war effort as rebels approach the capital Addis Ababa. Read on for the context of the conflict.

Thursday long-read

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