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Fewer migrants using Belgium as route to get to UK

07:22 27/02/2023

The number of migrants passing through Belgian territory in an effort to reach the United Kingdom dropped by 90% last year compared to 2018, according to the latest figures from Belgium's justice ministry.

Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said that Belgian police had intercepted 944 migrants attempting to transit through Belgium in 2022 compared to almost 13,000 in 2018. In 2021, that number was 4,100.

It is estimated that almost 80,000 people tried to cross into the United Kingdom from continental Europe in 2022, suggesting that Belgium has become less viable as a route through to the UK.

The drop has been particularly pronounced in West Flanders, with the number of migrants intercepted in and around the port of Zeebrugge alone falling from 3,926 in 2018 to just 404 in 2022.

Belgian authorities attribute the drop to extensive checks of containers in the nation’s ports, as well as steep penalties imposed on people convicted of human trafficking offences.

Since the start of 2019, 116 people have been convicted of human trafficking, either by small boat, truck or transport container.

Written by Paul Millar