Migrant crisis soars as 67 try to cross Channel to UK in just three days

A total of 67 migrants have been spotted trying to make the journey in small boats in recent days, with the warm weather making the crossing more appealing to those wanting to make it to Britain. A makeshift boat carrying 20 migrants ran out of fuel in the early hours of Monday morning, sparking an emergency rescue, a spokesperson for the maritime prefecture said. 

Some of the migrants were “suffering from mild hypothermia” and “in a state of shock” when they were picked up by a French coastguard boat after departing from a beach near the small French port of Gravelines, between Calais and Dunkirk. They were later handed over to border police. 

Both French and British border officials have been scrambling to tackle the spike in small boat crossings since November last year.  

Another 47 migrants from Iran and Iraq were intercepted by British border officials after crossing the Channel in makeshift vessels over the weekend. 

Twenty people were arrested by Border Force officials around Dungeness on Saturday afternoon. In a second incident, a border force cutter stopped a small boat in the Channel and brought 11 men to Dover. 

Six more migrants, including three children, were found by police on the Sussex coast. Another 10 people – eight men and two women – were picked up from a boat travelling across the Channel over the weekend.

The warm weather this summer has contributed to the increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross into the UK by boat. More than 160 people made the journey last month.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “Anyone crossing the Channel illegally is putting their life in danger, which is why the UK is working side by side with France to tackle the issue.

“It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and since January more than 50 people who arrived illegally in the UK on small boats have been returned to Europe.” 

The Home Office stressed two high-speed cutters were patrolling waters between France and the UK, after a joint action plan to curb illegal crossings was agreed between the two neighbours earlier this year.  

The plan has seen nearly £1million invested in new security equipment since December 2018, with an additional £2million set to be spent on extra security measures to dissuade migrants from making the dangerous journey, the Home Office added. 

Measures being taken by France and Britain include improved cooperation between law enforcement agencies and more surveillance and security on beaches along France’s northern coastline. Security has also been ramped up in and around French ports. 

As of late July, there had been 1,150 attempts by migrants to cross the Channel since the start of 2019. 

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Of those, 725 people arrived in the UK and 425 were arrested by French border police. 

Despite the closure of the sprawling “jungle” camp in the French border town of Calais in late 2016, migrants have remained at makeshift tent camps along the country’s northern coast and smugglers continue to open new migrant routes from arrival points in Greece, Spain and Italy. 

Located outside the port of Calais, the infamous “jungle” camp served as a launch pad for migrants attempting to reach the UK hidden in lorries, trains and ferries. 

While the number of people trying to enter Britain increased dramatically last year compared with 2017, it has remained considerably lower than the number of people attempting to reach the EU by crossing the Mediterranean Sea from northern Africa, namely Libya. 

The recent surge in Channel crossings has put extra pressure on the British government amid a tense political climate less than three months before the UK is due to leave the EU.

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