They were intercepted in the early morning, this Sunday, while they were aboard a makeshift boat in the middle of the Channel. Twenty-two migrants attempting to reach England were arrested by the British Border Police before being taken to Dover (south-east of the UK) for questioning by the immigration authorities. London has not communicated their nationality.
Despite the danger associated with these often nocturnal and tumultuous voyages, attempts to reach the UK coast from France continue to multiply. This phenomenon was observed for the first time in 2016.
Friday, says AFP, there are already twenty men who were found at sea. According to 20 minutes, they were also 30 (including seven minors) to have been taken care of by relief on October 24, while their two boats were in trouble. And 31 people, including five children, were rescued on October 4, argues the daily.
Four dead since the beginning of the year
Sometimes, it is a fatal attempt: on October 14, the bodies of two Iraqi migrants of 17 and 22 years were found drowned on one of the beaches of Le Touquet (Pas-de-Calais). They are four to have died in similar conditions since the beginning of the year.
At the end of August, according to the Journal du Dimanche, the Manche maritime prefecture counted 1473 migrants who tried to reach the British coasts. In 2018, they were 586. Other data attesting to this recrudescence: in 2017 there were only 12 boats having attempted or succeeded the crossing, 71 in 2018 and 237 since the beginning of the year 2019.
Migrants, however, face a number of major risks, linked in particular to the dilapidated nature of their boats, strong currents, low water temperatures, and the risk of hypothermia, as well as the density of traffic in this area. area where 25% of the world's maritime traffic flows.
100 km of coastline to watch
Faced with this phenomenon, Paris and London have massified their border surveillance. A Franco-British plan was introduced in the summer and the United Kingdom has granted 7 million Euros to France to strengthen their common border, including using drones. In all this are 100 km of coastline to watch. To achieve this, 30 reserve gendarmes have been deployed, says La Voix du Nord.
Consequence: migrants also adapt. Passenger networks replace individual crossings. And the geography is changing: so far, the boats departed mostly from Calais, but departures now spread over many points of the coastline, to thwart police surveillance.
The Brexit argument advanced by smugglers
How to explain this craze for the UK? It is a question of language first of all. Many of the refugees applying for crossings are Afghans, Iraqis, Eritreans or Somalis and speak English fluently. We can also recall the pressure linked to the dismantling of the camps in France.
In order to convince as many refugees as possible to reach the United Kingdom, the smugglers put forward the Brexit argument, analysis France 2. They urge the migrants to cross the Channel, before the country leaves the European Union, by assuring them that once the Brexit is effective, the borders will be totally blocked.
Remember that the majority of immigration attempts in the UK are still by truck. Here again, there are many risks for their lives. On 23 October, 23 dead bodies were found in a refrigerated truck near London.