A group of people thought to be migrants are brought into Dover, Kent, by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel, picture taken on Wednesday September 2, 2020 | Photo: IMAGO
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought into Dover, Kent, by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel, picture taken on Wednesday September 2, 2020 | Photo: IMAGO

More than 400 migrants crossed the English Channel on Wednesday, setting a new record for a single day. Dozens of others who attempted the crossing were handed over to French police on the coast near Calais.

At least 409 migrants reached UK shores on Wednesday after crossing the Channel on small boats, news agency dpa reports. According to an analysis by the British Press Association (PA), this outstrips the previous record of 235 crossings in one day.

Many of the migrant boats were intercepted by British coast guards – the interior ministry says there were "at least 27" incidents. Other boats managed to reach the British coast on their own.

A likely reason for the spike in arrivals could be fair and mild weather conditions, dpa reports.

Intercepted by French police

Meanwhile, French authorities on Wednesday took charge of dozens of migrants stranded on a beach in northern France after a failed attempt to cross the Channel from France to Britain, police said.

The group -- made up of 31 men, 10 women and 22 children -- was found on a beach at Wimereux in the Pas-de-Calais region. They had set off in a boat on Tuesday night; the majority was given shelter in the region in Calais, police said.

53 other migrants were reportedly intercepted at sea, traveling on leisure boats including kayaks and canoes, dpa reports. They were taken to shore and handed over to border police in France. 

Increase over the years

The number of English Channel crossings has increased continuously over the years: Whereas the total number of crossings was 300 in 2018, the number rose to more than 1,800 in 2019. So far this year, more than 5,500 people have crossed the Channel, and nearly 1,500 migrants arrived in Britain from France in the month of August, according to PA.

The tally for August is believed to be a record for a single month and is almost as high as the numbers in June and July combined, the AFP news agency reports.

Authorities say that there is a rise in the number of children and infants onboard the small boats too.

Also read: UK faces new surge in migrant arrivals

Policial tension

The migration issue has increased political tensions between London and Paris, and the British conservative government has publicly pressured France to do more to prevent migrant crossings and fight people smuggling.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said Tuesday that the spike in crossings was "unacceptable" and blamed criminal gangs for exploiting the desperate and vulnerable for money, AFP reports. The UK is a "target and magnet" for people traffickers and our asylum laws must change, Johnson warned.

French authorities have said that they are doing all they can, and last month the mayor of Calais told Johnson he should "calm down". 

 

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