May 25, 2024
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UK

International social media campaign launched to stop the boats

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The latest phase of the government’s global campaign to warn migrants of the consequences of entering the UK illegally.

Every year, thousands of people are sold lies by organised criminal gangs who put profit before human life, smuggling people to the UK across one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, the English Channel.

The Home Secretary has launched a new campaign that will be rolled out in Vietnam, following successful social media activity in Albania last year which contributed to a 90% reduction in Albanian small boat arrivals.

Using real testimonies from those who regret coming to the UK illegally, the adverts highlight the risks and consequences people face if they turn to criminal gangs and attempt the dangerous journey.  

A migrant, referred to as K, shares his reality of sleeping in a camp in Calais for 5 nights under the supervision of armed guards, before taking the long journey across the Channel to the UK. He says: “Never again would I risk my life in a small boat, even if you bribed me.”

An increasing proportion of small boat migrants are Vietnamese, and they are 1 of the top 10 nationalities for migrants crossing the Channel illegally. 

The latest phase of the campaign, which will begin today (Monday 25 March), will harness social media adverts on Facebook and YouTube to directly target people who may be considering making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK.  

The social media posts emphasise the consequences of travelling to the UK illegally and the dangers people can expect to face, as well as set out the risks of being indebted to and exploited by the people smuggling gangs who profit from facilitating small boat crossings. 

Home Secretary James Cleverly said:     

This is a powerful campaign which demonstrates first-hand that life for people arriving here illegally is a far cry from the lies they have been sold by the gangs on the other side of the Channel. 

Last year, similar work contributed to a 90% reduction in small boat arrivals from Albania, and overall numbers are down by a third, but there is more to do. 

Expanding our campaign to Vietnam, another key partner in our work to tackle illegal migration, will help us to save more lives and dent the business model of the criminals who profit from this vile trade.

The campaign warns prospective migrants of the reality of living in the UK illegally with no right to be in the UK and no access to public services or funding. 

It includes testimonies from Home Office Immigration Enforcement and Border Force officers, who all too often encounter illegal migrants who have been sold into modern slavery or illegal working by their smugglers. 

Illegal migrants can be forced to live in inhumane, cramped and hazardous conditions by criminal gangs, with no access to basic hygiene, healthcare or legal employment

The campaign’s social media adverts direct users to a new website with additional video content from Immigration Enforcement and Border Force officers who describe some of the shocking cases they’ve encountered and their experiences of rescuing small boat migrants from life-threatening danger in the Channel. 

This stage of the campaign follows successful social media activity by the UK government in Albania, France and Belgium, and is the latest step in the UK’s efforts to work jointly with countries across the world to tackle the global migration crisis.  

Similar campaigns are also being considered for other priority countries. 

UK and Vietnamese authorities already work closely to prevent illegal journeys to the UK and remove those with no right to be here. 

Senior officials from the UK and Vietnam are due to meet in London on 17 April to discuss working in even closer partnership on migration issues.

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