Migrants crossing the English Channel, September 2020 | Photo: picture-alliance/P. Bonniere
Migrants crossing the English Channel, September 2020 | Photo: picture-alliance/P. Bonniere

More than 60 migrants were prevented from crossing the English Channel between France and the UK at the weekend. British police said they detained 36 people, and the French authorities arrested 27 people on Saturday. A further 134 were prevented from crossing over the last week.

The British Immigration Minister Chris Philip called attempts to cross the Channel in small boats "illegally facilitated crossings," and added that migrants "should be claiming asylum in the first safe country they reach," reported the German news agency dpa.

The British minister spoke out after British authorities said they had detained 36 people and their French counterparts 27 people on Saturday, January 16.

Over the last week, British and French authorities stopped 134 migrants from making the crossing from the French coast to the United Kingdom, according to dpa.

According to a BBC report on Sunday, January 17, the 36 migrants "intercepted" by British Border Force authorities were on two small boats. The BBC also reported a statement from the British Home Office (Interior Ministry) which stated that "57 people in four boats were dealt with by the UK on Sunday." It didn’t make clear exactly what was meant by the words "dealt with," or whether the migrants were taken to the UK, but it is presumed so.

10 rescued on Saturday by French authorities

On Saturday, the Prefecture for the Channel and the North Sea tweeted that they had rescued 10 migrants who were attempting to make the crossing.

According to the press release put out by the prefecture, the migrants got into difficulty off the coast of Gravelines. A maritime police boat, a French naval boat and a fishing boat all came to their assistance. The fishing boat stood by the small boat until the navy and maritime police arrived.

A few minutes after the arrival of the fishing boat, the maritime police's surveillance boat Scarpe took the ten migrants on board. Some of them "seemed to be suffering from severe hypothermia," stated the press release.

'Everyone is safe and sound'

The migrants were taken back to the dock at Dunkirk, where they were looked after by members of the border police service. "Everyone is safe and sound," concluded the press release.

Also on January 16, the British Home Office tweeted that it had arrested 116 people in connection with small boat crossings throughout 2020. They reiterated that they were working "hard to stop these dangerous journeys and bring the criminals behind illegally-facilitated Channel crossings to justice."

A tweet by the French prefecture posted on Monday, January 18, warned anyone thinking of going to sea in the Channel of difficult conditions. The weather forecast predicted high seas and strong winds ("gusts of wind up to 100 kilometers per hour") until at least Thursday, January 21.


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