Ms. Chapman said that Britain had “a shared responsibility” to accept people who were applying for asylum and should not rely on countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Mediterranean countries to hold them.
“We can’t outsource that to poorer countries, that’s an abdication of responsibility,” Ms. Chapman added. “They are not unmanageable numbers.”
The rising number of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the English Channel in small boats has been a rallying cry for anti-immigrant groups.
But migration experts say that the number of those boat crossings — somewhere about 5,000, according to estimates from The Times of London and the BBC — signal a shift in migration routes, rather than a surge in total new arrivals. While boat arrivals were up in the last year, the overall number of asylum applications was down, falling by 18 percent in 2020, compared with 2019.
Historically, migrants and asylum seekers hid in the back of trucks and crossed from ports in northern France or elsewhere in Europe as the main routes of irregular entry, a much less visible phenomenon. Stepped up patrolling of freight traffic, particularly coming from the French port of Calais, and the shutdown of other forms of travel during the pandemic shifted smuggling routes to the boat crossings, experts say.
The Refugee Council, the advocacy group, recently released a report on the huge backlog in asylum application processing in Britain, despite the drop in new applicants. According to that study, the number of people waiting for more than a year for an initial decision has risen almost tenfold in the last decade, to 33,016 in 2020, from 3,588 in 2010.
Mr. Hewett of the Refugee Council said that measures introduced so far have failed to act as a deterrent, adding that his organization and other refugee advocates would like to see a shift toward establishing safe and legal routes for asylum seekers to obtain humanitarian visas.