Nearly 1,000 migrants crossed the English Channel in small boats on Saturday, while around 200 others were rescued and returned to France. Authorities again warned against making the dangerous journey.
The UK defence ministry says 960 migrants made the dangerous crossing from France on Saturday (September 3) arriving in 20 boats. Young children were among those brought ashore in Kent and Dover. The news came after 1,295 migrants crossed the Channel on August 22, setting a record for a single day.
Also on Saturday, on the French side of the Channel, the Prefecture maritime de la Manche (Premar) said it had rescued nearly 190 people trying to make the crossing, with a further 109 rescued in two separate operations on Sunday.
Around 60 people were picked up by a French navy patrol off the coast early on Saturday, with another 50 rescued later that morning, the authority said. All the migrants were returned to France.
French paramilitary gendarmes were also called out on Saturday morning, rescuing 47 people off the north coast. Another 29 people were rescued later in the day.
In recent years, extra security has been added to the port of Calais and the cross-Channel tunnel, leading to growing numbers of migrants risking the Chanel crossing in small, unsafe boats.
An increase in arrivals on UK shores has led to greater tension between London and Paris, with the UK government accusing France of not doing enough to stop the crossings.
More than 26,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year. Over the whole of 2021, just over 28,500 people made the crossing, over three times the number arriving in 2020.
The Union for Borders, Immigration and Customs said in March that its staff had been told to expect that the total number of arrivals this year would be close to 60,000.
New legal challenge
The UK has spend tens of millions of pounds on measure to deter irregular migrants from coming to the country. Last month the government said it planned to fast-track the removal of Albanians entering irregularly, as figures showed that they made up the largest single nationality making small-boat crossings.
The Home Office is also pressing ahead with a plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their applications processed there. A legal challenge to the plan, brought by refugee charities and the Public and Commercial Services Union, was due to start on Monday, September 5.
The charities, including Detention Action and Care4Calais, argue that the Home Secretary should reveal the criteria used to determine which asylum seekers are to be transferred to Rwanda. They also say that sending people to the East African country would contravene the Refugee Convention.
Warning against risky journey
With the relatively large number of arrivals in Dover and Kent at the weekend, France issued a new warning against attempting the Channel crossing in makeshift boats. The dangers of the crossing were highlighted last November, when 27 people died after their boat sank off the French coast.
In a statement on Sunday, Premar said the Channel was one of the busiest maritime sectors in the world. "There are more than 400 commercial vessels passing through it every day and meteorological conditions (that) are often difficult," including winds reaching force 7 on average for 120 days in the year.
"It is therefore a particularly dangerous area, especially at a time when the water temperature is going to drop."
The authority added: "If you witness or are a victim of an incident at sea, contact the emergency services by telephone by dialing 196 or by VHF on channel 16."