Macron responds: French rescue 292 Channel migrants trying to reach UK after pressure

EU: Expert discusses ‘pushbacks’ of migrants at border

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Coastguards rescued 292 migrants in small boats in the English Channel on Monday. The move comes as the Government increases the pressure on officials in Paris to do more to prevent the dangerous crossings.

A record number of illegal journeys have been made across the 21-mile stretch of water this year.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has already pledged tens of millions to France to increase patrols at French ports.

The operation on Monday night and into Tuesday morning involved crews from the military and border force.

A French Navy intervention tugboat recovered 108 people in three separate rescue operations.

A further 32 migrants were rescued by the national sea rescue company of Dunkirk.

Meanwhile, other coastguards from Calais took more than 100 others in small boats back to land.

In a statement, France’s maritime prefectures department said: “The surveillance and rescue operational centre CROSS was informed that numerous boats were in difficulty.”

It added: “Operations continued during the day on November 2.”

More than 20,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel in 2021 – more than double the number of crossings recorded last year.

The flow of migrants continue to surge despite winter closing in.

On Tuesday, UK authorities rescued or intercepted 456 people in small boats who were bound for the British coast.

Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander for the Home Office, described the journey’s as “dangerous, unnecessary and facilitated by violent criminal gangs profiting from misery”.


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He added: “We are working with the French to stop boats leaving their beaches and crack down on the criminals driving these crossings.”

In July, the Home Office agreed to hand French authorities £54million to double to number of patrols across the northern coast.

The funds would also increase surveillance technology and infrastructure at key border crossing points.

The Home Office has put forward a Nationality and Borders Bill, which includes clauses to allow the UK to be able to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country”.

The legislation would also give border officials the powers to turn migrants away from the UK while at sea, and making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in Britain without permission.

The Home Secretary defended the UK’s tough stance on migrants and dismissed fears that planned pushback operations would endanger people.

Speaking before a parliamentary committee last week, Ms Patel said the Government would “never do anything to put the safety of people’s lives at risk”.

She said: “We don’t want to see people dying at sea and I’m very vocal about this, but at the same time I’m unapologetic about our determination as a Government to stop the people trafficking and putting people in boats.

“We’re not here to threaten lives, we’re here to save lives and make sure that people’s lives are not put at risk.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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