A small group of migrants attempt to cross the Channel on a small boat before being rescued by the French authorities | Source: Twitter feed of Maritime Prefecture for the Channel and the North Sea / InfoMigrants French
A small group of migrants attempt to cross the Channel on a small boat before being rescued by the French authorities | Source: Twitter feed of Maritime Prefecture for the Channel and the North Sea / InfoMigrants French

On Thursday, August 6, a new record was reached for the numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Channel between Britain and Europe in one day. According to reports, 235 migrants were detained on Thursday after being picked up by patrols.

At least 235 people were found attempting to cross the English Channel on Thursday, August 6, in 17 small boats. This record comes just a week after 202 migrants reached Britain at the end of July. The people in that contingent came from Yemen, Eritrea, Chad, Egypt, Sudan and Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, India, Mali and also included Palestinians, according to the news agency dpa.

One group of 15 people succeeded in reaching British shores and landed on a beach in Kent. According to BBC reports, there were several children on board and a pregnant woman.

British governmen inquiry launched

British lawmakers (MPs) have launched an inquiry following increasing numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Channel between France, Belgium and the Netherlands and the UK in small boats.

According to the BBC, "more than 1,000 migrants arrived on UK shores" from across the Channel in July alone. Prior to Thursday’s record crossing, throughout 2020, the BBC estimates the number of people who have made it to Britain via the sea crossing to be about 3,713 across at total 286 small boat journeys.

Now the British lower house of parliament, the House of Commons, says it will have the Home Affairs committee start to investigate the criminal gangs who are making the crossings possible.

The committee, wrote the BBC, will "assess the conditions migrants face in France and the particular dangers to children who make the crossing unaccompanied."

Government 'frustrated' by crossings

Rishi Sunak, Britain's chancellor who is in charge of the finances of the nation, told Sky News he was "frustrated" by the rising numbers of crossings and said that the British and French governments were working closely together "to improve co-operation and intelligence sharing." According to dpa, he didn’t rule out deploying the British navy to try to control the numbers of arrivals.

Another Conservative MP, Natalie Elphicke, who is the representative for Dover and Deal in Kent - which is where many of the crossings land - called the situation "unacceptable" in a tweet.

She said it was "vital that these small boats crossings are brought to an end." Elphicke added that she was busy meeting with local residents to "discuss the impact on our coastal villages."

'End the crossings once and for all'

In a second tweet, Elphicke said that it was "vital to see French authorities take action to stop dinghies leaving French shores – and when they do, intercept them early and get them back to France." 

Earlier in July, Elphicke said in a series of tweets that when Britain fully leaves the EU at the end of the year, she hoped that the government could start doing things differently and that authorities would be handed "extra legal powers" to "end the crossings once and for all."

Elphicke added that smugglers used "a range of new methods to keep one step ahead of the authorities."A growing number of migrants are hoping to reach the coast of Kent in the UK | Photo: picture-alliance/G. FullerAccording to the British newspaper The Guardian, in 2018 "fewer than 500 people were detected to have entered the UK by small boat across the Channel." Now numbers in just one month, i.e. July, have more than doubled those figures.

A petition on the UK government's website calling for "action to stop illegal immigration and rapidly remove illegal immigrants"  has reached over 44,000 signatures on the day of writing. If it reaches over 100,000 the issue would be debated in the British parliament.

Alleged smugglers on trial

Earlier this week, two Ukranian nationals appeared at a Norwich magistrate court in the east of the UK on charges of "facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration laws." They have been remanded until their appearance at Ipswich crown court at the beginning of September.

The two men were picked up by UK border forces who stopped a yacht which had sailed from the Netherlands towards Southwold Harbor on the east coast of the UK.

In response to the record crossings, Britain’s immigration minister Chris Philp told the BBC’s Simon Jones that he "share[ed] the anger and frustration of the public at the appalling number of crossings we have seen today. The crossings are totally unacceptable and unnecessary."

Journalist Simon Jones filed a number of reports for the BBC, including video of some of the boats his camera team spotted.

Rescue by French authorities

Jones added that the British Home Office "intended to return as many migrants who have arrived by boat as possible. There are return flights planned in the coming days," he tweeted.

InfoMigrants French also reported on the rescue of a further 19 migrants near the French coasts, also on Thursday. Several rescue operations were launched by the maritime authorities for the Pas-de-Calais region on Thursday. Among other things, they intercepted two kayaks that were attempting to make the crossing. Three migrants were found on board one kayak and two on the second, stated the Maritime Prefecture for the Channel and North Sea in a press release.

Later on in the afternoon, patrols came across 12 migrants whose motor had broken down on their rubber dinghy; the boat had reportedly begun to take on water. Some of the intercepted migrants appeared to be suffering from symptoms of hypothermia. They were all taken back to France, "safe and sound," stated the Prefecture.


More articles