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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Small boats carrying 49 migrants stopped from crossing English Channel into UK

French authorities have stopped more than 70 per cent of attempted Channel crossings this year

Thousands of migrants crossed the English Channel from northern France in 2020 and Britain is working to reduce the number. AFP
Thousands of migrants crossed the English Channel from northern France in 2020 and Britain is working to reduce the number. AFP

Four small boats carrying 49 people were intercepted as they crossed the English Channel from continental Europe.

French authorities stopped another 126 people travelling in eight boats, UK Immigration Minister Chris Philp said.

More than 8,000 people crossed into Britain from mainland Europe in 2020, often navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping routes in overloaded dinghies.

An increase in maritime migration followed tighter controls at ferry ports and travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The surge in numbers caused a political headache for the UK government, which struck deals with France to prevent the crossings, without success.

But Mr Philp said the French authorities had stopped more than 70 per cent of attempted Channel crossings this year.

“Criminals are exploiting migrants for profit and are selling false dreams of life in the UK,” he said. “That is why we are pursuing the facilitators behind these crossings, returning migrants who have no right to stay in the UK to safe countries and continuing to do everything we can to make this route unviable.”

Updated: February 23, 2021 03:48 PM

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