200 migrants rescued crossing English Channel

French coastguard carries out seven operations after boats got into difficulty

Four women and a child were among more than 200 migrants rescued from the English Channel, French authorities said.

Their makeshift boats got into trouble as they tried to reach Britain.

In seven separate operations between Monday and Tuesday evening, 210 migrants were rescued and brought back to the northern French coast.

They were brought back to Calais, Dunkirk or Boulogne and taken care of by the border police and, in some cases, firefighters or the maritime emergency medical service.

Increasing numbers of migrants have tried to cross to Britain by sea since late 2018, despite authorities' warnings of the dangers in the busy shipping lane, which is also subject to strong currents and low temperatures.

Hundreds daily have continued to attempt to cross one of the world’s busiest waterways to reach Britain, despite the increasingly cold weather.

Crossings can take hours, with most small boats intercepted by border officials during the journey across the Channel, which measures just 33 kilometres at its narrowest point.

The approach of winter has also not deterred people from attempting the hazardous crossing.

Last Thursday, the body of a migrant was found in a waterlogged boat on a beach in Wissant, France, alongside two people suffering from hypothermia.

He was the third person in a week to die attempting to cross the English Channel in small boats.

More than 21,000 people have attempted to make the crossing this year, according to UK estimates — a record and more than double the figure of last year.

According to Vice-Admiral Philippe Dutrieux, who heads the coastal forces for the Channel, about 15,400 migrants attempted the crossing in the first eight months of this year, 3,500 of whom were recovered “in difficulty” before being brought back to France.

In 2020, around 9,500 people made or attempted crossings, compared with 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel told Parliament this month that 70 per cent of those who tried to cross by small boat were single men who “are effectively economic migrants. They are not genuine asylum seekers”.

Updated: November 10th 2021, 8:50 AM