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

French maritime authorities say they have rescued more than 200 migrants who were trying to reach Britain from France in makeshift boats. So far this year, more than 20,000 migrants have reached Britain by crossing the English Channel.

210 migrants, including four women and a child, were rescued in seven separate operations between Monday and Tuesday evening, French authorities said late Tuesday (November 9).

They were brought back to the northern French coast after their boats were in difficulty, the responsible French maritime prefecture wrote in an online statement.

The rescuers were brought back to Calais, Dunkirk or Boulogne where border police and, in some cases, firefighters or the maritime emergency medical service, took care of them. According to the statement, at least five vessels were involved in the rescue operations.

Earlier this month, one migrant died and one went missing as French maritime authorities rescued more than 400 migrants in the Channel from small boats.

Key migrant route

Since late 2018, the number of migrants trying to cross the Channel irregularly by boat has risen sharply -- despite repeated warnings from authorities highlighting the dangers of heavy shipping traffic, strong currents and low water temperatures.

The approach of winter has also not deterred people from attempting the hazardous crossing. Last Thursday (November 4), the body of a migrant was found in a boat full of water on a beach in the French village of Wissant alongside two people suffering from hypothermia, news agency AFP reported.

The Strait of Dover (Strait of Calais in French) between the French department of Pas-de-Calais and Dover in the southeastern English county of Kent | Source: Google Maps
The Strait of Dover (Strait of Calais in French) between the French department of Pas-de-Calais and Dover in the southeastern English county of Kent | Source: Google Maps


In two incidents similar to the one that took place this week, French authorities last month rescued 213 migrants in the Channel who tried to reach Britain. A week earlier, French authorities stopped some 410 people from making the crossing while 1,100 migrants made it to Britain over the course of two days.

According to news agency dpa citing Britain's domestic news agency PA, more than 20,000 migrants have successfully reached Britain in small boats since the beginning of the year, more than twice as many as in all of last year. The years 2019 and 2018 saw 2,300 and 600 crossings and attempted crossings, respectively.

The number of rescued migrants in the Channel is also up: This year, French and English authorities picked up almost 16,000 people in distress through the end of August, dpa reported. According to French Vice-Admiral Philippe Dutrieux, who heads the coastal forces for the Channel, French authorities recovered 3,500 of those.

With AFP, dpa

 

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