UK still main destination for migrants as Belgium sees huge drop

Boris Johnson blasts Labour over migrant crossings

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The UK continues to be the main destination for transit migrants, european statistics have shown, with the number of migrants passing through Belgium on their way to Britain seeing a massive drop. The statistics published by the Minister of Justice on Wednesday in Ostend suggest the number of these migrants who pass through Belgium without settling there but with the aim of going to the UK, has fallen sharply.

The number of migrants passing through Belgium on their way to the UK fell by 90 percent from 2018 to 2022.

Belgian police detected nearly 13,000 people making their way to the UK through the territory in 2018; in 2022 this number had fallen to just 944.

The reduction was particularly noticeable in the West Flanders province.

Federal Justice Minister Van Quickenborne in a press release stated: “A clandestine crossing to the UK in a boat, container or lorry is life-threatening. People smugglers already have countless deaths on their conscience.

“Together with the police and the Justice Department we have done everything to stop and severely punish people smuggling in recent years, and the efforts are starting to pay off.”

The minister highlighted frequent police interventions, extensive international cooperation, and severe punishments for smugglers as particularly effective measures.

In addition, the analysis of confiscated smartphones by the newly-established TransIT team has played a part in the success.

In 2022, it is estimated that nearly 80,000 people attempted to cross to the United Kingdom from continental Europe, however, the majority did not pass through Belgium.

The fall is most significant in West Flanders with the number of interceptions of migrants falling sharply in and around the port of Zeebrugge, from 3,926 migrants detected in 2018 to 404 in 2022.

The decline matches the magnitude in Ostend, where 196 migrants “in transit” were found in 2018 compared to 30 in 2022.

The number of migrants intercepted while trying to reach Great Britain is also down in De Panne, Coxyde, Nieuwpoort and Blankenberge.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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