More than 900 intercepted trying to cross the Channel in one day

More than 900 people in small boats have been intercepted crossing the English Channel in what is believed to be the highest number of migrants trying to reach the UK in a single day so far this year.

Among the arrivals on Tuesday were several children, including a baby, who were brought ashore by a Royal Naval Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent.

The Channel’s humanitarian crisis continues unabated, even as war in Ukraine forces millions from their homes.

Northern France is often used as the last launching pad for migrants trying to reach southern England after fleeing violence and hunger in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

They face the English Channel obstacle – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes – which is used by some of the world’s largest cargo ships.

If migrants, often using tiny, unseaworthy vessels, can make the crossing – just 35 kilometers at its narrowest point – they may be treated as asylum seekers.

If they fail, they could lose their lives along the way. The greatest loss of life in a single incident last year was when 27 people drowned after their boat sank.

British authorities intercepted 405 people in 12 boats on Tuesday, while the French arrested another 538 people in 11 boats.

Coast guard carry life jackets for migrants.  AFP

More than 2,500 people have crossed the Channel since the beginning of the year. A record 28,526 people made the crossing in 2021.

A Home Office spokeswoman said joint operations with the French had “prevented more than 23,000 migrant attempts” in 2021 and dismantled 19 related organized crime groups, with 400 arrests made since July 2020.

Tom Pursglove, Minister for Justice and the fight against illegal immigration, said: “The increase in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable.

“Not only are they a clear abuse of our immigration laws, but they also impact the UK taxpayer, put lives at risk and our ability to help refugees come to the UK through safe and secure channels. legal. Rightly, the British public has had enough.

“Through our Nationality and Borders Bill, we are cracking down on people smugglers and fixing the broken system by making it a criminal offense to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally and introducing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those who facilitate illegal entry into the UK. the country.

“Our targeted work with the French authorities has enabled more than 500 people [being] intercepted before attempting the perilous journey to reach the UK.

Updated: March 16, 2022, 3:59 p.m.