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Afghan, Iranian and Turkish nationals most common small boat arrivals this year

The mix of nationalities varies from year to year (Gareth Fuller/PA)
The mix of nationalities varies from year to year (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Turkish nationals are now one of the most common groups of people arriving in the UK on small boats, accounting for around one in nine so far in 2023.

Albanians represent 3% of this year’s figure, compared with 28% last year, according to new provisional data from the Home Office.

Afghans account for the single largest group of arrivals from January 1 to November 29 2023, at 20% of the total, the same proportion as for the whole of 2022.

The next largest group is Iranians on 12%, down slightly from 13% last year.

POLITICS Migrants Boats
(PA Graphics)

But the proportion who are Turkish has jumped from 2% in 2022 to 11% so far in 2023.

The mix of nationalities of people arriving on small boats across the English Channel has varied from year to year.

In 2018 and 2019, when comparatively few crossings were recorded, most arrivals were Iranian nationals (80% and 66% respectively).

A change came in 2020, with Iranians still the leading nationality but accounting for 28% of arrivals, followed by Iraqis (19%), Sudanese (11%) and Syrians (9%).

Iranians and Iraqis together accounted for more than half of arrivals in 2021 (30% and 22% respectively), with a mix of countries once again making up the rest.

There was another change in 2022: Iranian and Iraqi nationals dropped to 13% and 10% respectively, with Albanian (28%) and Afghan (20%) the leading nationalities.

The data for 2023 so far suggests a new trend is emerging, with a sharp drop in Albanian arrivals and a jump in the proportion who are from Turkey.

All figures are based on the total number of arrivals where nationality has been recorded by the Home Office.

Following the spike in summer 2022 in the number of Albanian nationals arriving in the UK on small boats, the governments of both countries struck an agreement to work together to prevent people from making the journey.

This included placing UK border force staff in Tirana airport in the capital of Albania, the exchange of senior police officers, and the creation of a joint migration task force.

The cumulative number of small boat arrivals this year currently stands at 29,090, down 34% on the total at the same point last year.