As many as 696 people aboard 14 small boats were intercepted making the perilous crossing through one of the busiest straits in the world. Since the start of the year, 17,000 have tried it.
On the French side, 70 castaways trying to reach England on two separate boats were rescued on Monday in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais by the Navy patrol boat, said the maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea. in a press release.
Supported by the border police (PAF) and relief at the port of Calais, all are safe and sound, she said.
Faced with the scale of the phenomenon, the British government concluded an agreement with Rwanda to send asylum seekers who arrived illegally on British soil to this East African country.
Although none of these deportations has yet taken place – a first flight scheduled for June was canceled after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – the candidates for the succession of Boris Johnson, Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have promised to continue this highly controversial policy.
A recent parliamentary report considered that this measure is far from having the expected deterrent effect and pleaded for London to negotiate with Paris the installation on French soil of centers for examining asylum applications.
MEPs pointed out that Channel crossings in small boats continue to increase significantly: 28,500 people arrived in the UK in 2021. This number could reach 60,000 this year.
At least 203 people have died or gone missing, at sea or on land, trying to reach England from the northern coast of France since 2014, including 27 in a single day in a shipwreck that occurred in 2021, according to an updated count from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
A cause of tension
According to TimesHome Secretary Priti Patel is set for the third consecutive year to pay millions of pounds to France as part of a deal to tackle these crossings, at the heart of recurring tensions between the French governments and British.
In the fall of 2021, Priti Patel had, according to the British press, threatened not to pay the more than 60 million euros promised, for lack of results on the French side, to the great astonishment of his French counterpart Gérald Darmanin.
A network suspected of having smuggled more than 10,000 migrants, from the Middle East and East Africa, from France to the United Kingdom in the last 12 to 18 months with small inflatable boats has recently dismantled, resulting in 39 arrests.
This operation, carried out jointly by France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, has been described by Europol as the largest operation targeting a network using small boats.