From file: Migrants are taking more and more risks in order to reach the UK | Photo: Reuters
From file: Migrants are taking more and more risks in order to reach the UK | Photo: Reuters

Four migrants were rescued on Tuesday off the French coast as they were trying to reach England with the aid of oars and paddles. A little earlier, 29 other migrants were picked up by the authorities after their boat broke up on the breakwater near Dunkirk.

Some migrants will take any risk they can in their attempt to cross the Channel to England from the French coast. On Tuesday, May 11, at about 7:30 a.m, four Eritrean migrants got into difficulty aboard a small blow up boat. They were rescued by the French authorities in an attempt to row or paddle their way to the UK, reported the local newspaper La Voix Du Nord.

The migrants were taken to the port of Calais where they were handed over to the border police (PAF). They were found to be suffering from light hypothermia and were examined and cared for by the emergency services.

A little earlier that morning, another boat with 29 migrants aboard, including five women, broke up on the breakwater near Dunkirk, according to a press statement from the Prefecture in the area (Préfecture maritime de la Manche et de la mer du Nord). The migrants in that boat were safe and sound and were taken by the border police as they were brought on land.

A dangerous crossing

Once again, the prefect in the region has repeated his warnings that crossing the Channel is a dangerous undertaking. He said, the Channel is “one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and the meteorological conditions are often tricky. There are more than 120 days a year where the average wind speed is equal to or tops force seven.” Conditions like this can be fatal, he concluded.

In 2018, Bernard Barron, President of the National Society for Sea Rescue (SNSM) in Calais told InfoMigrants that many people might think that "crossing just 29 kilometers of water that separates France and England might be easy, but in fact the crossing was full of traps."

Barron added that these traps included "the density of ship traffic, terrible currents, violent winds and high tides, as well as unexpected rocky and sandy shallows. There are 600 cargo ships which cross this stretch of water every day. The majority of them are gigantic container ships. It would be madness to think you can cross this water in a tiny dinghy, especially at night."

Even so, migrants continue to try everything in order to reach the UK. In the past, some migrants have attempted the crossing using fins, with a surf board and in tiny kayaks.

In 2020, more than 9,500 crossings and attempted crossings were registered. Four times more than the attempts and crossings in the year previously, 2019.

Translated from the French original by Emma Wallis


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