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    A handout image made available by France's Societe Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) on February 18, 2019, shows British rescuers (front) helping some 20 migrants on a semi-rigid boat trying make their way from France across the English Channel

    A New Norm? UK Border Force Reportedly Intercepts 50 Migrants Crossing English Channel

    © AFP 2019 / Handout / SOCIETE NATIONAL DE SAUVETAGE EN MER
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    The development comes just a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to send migrants crossing the English Channel back to their place of origin. He also said that the UK "should not be regarded as a place where you can automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally."

    Over 50 migrants have reportedly been intercepted attempting to make the potentially perilous journey across the English Channel to the town of Dover.

    The British Border Force are said to have picked the migrants up in four separate incidents with the assistance of local police and ambulance services, in what marks the latest in a series of similar incidents around England’s southeast coast over the past few months.

    Reports say that on the morning of August 31, around eight individuals approached the English coast in a dinghy and were subsequently picked up by the coastguard. Then, later on, another group of 14 suspected migrants were brought ashore by the Border Force. Then, later on Saturday morning, two rubber dinghies containing another 34 migrants were intercepted and brought ashore, allegedly including five children.

    ​Later on Saturday afternoon, a fifth rubber dinghy was reportedly discovered approaching the coast, but the number of those aboard is so far unknown.

    While the nationalities of the migrants are yet to be made public, in many of the recent incidents a great deal of those detained have claimed to be Iranian.

    A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been quoted as saying that, “HM Coastguard has been co-ordinating a search and rescue response to a number of incidents on the Kent coast, working with Border Force, Kent Police and other partners.”

    “Rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities,” the spokeswoman added.

    The developments come amid a dizzying increase in the number of migrants attempting to make the risk-fraught journey from mainland Europe to UK shores. The incidents have now become so frequent that the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, recently met with her French counterpart, Christophe Castaner, in Paris where reports say that the two agreed that the British and French authorities need to cooperate to crack down on the number of migrants crossing the English Channel. On Friday, Miss Patel also announced that measures were being drawn up to “immediately” deal with the problem.

    In a separate incident this week, on Tuesday, a mother and her child were said to be among another vessel carrying around 30 migrants that was headed for British shores. That incident came despite a recent warning by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who called for migrants not to risk the perilous journey because “we [the UK government] will send you back.”

    “We will send you back. The UK should not be regarded as a place where you can automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally,” the Prime Minister declared.

    Mr Johnson’s announcement was made following another hectic day for migrant arrivals on Thursday August 22, when reports said that a total of 37 people tried to cross the English Channel in rubber boats.

    The influx of migrants crossing the English Channel is a relatively new challenge for the UK border force that only began to spike from mid 2018 onwards. Yet, in these times of increasing refugee movement and displacement - which are, according to the UN, at the highest number on record - the large-scale migrants crossings are apparently gradually becoming the new norm. 

    According to statistics, more than 1,000 migrants landed in the UK since the start of November 2018. Figures show that 562 migrants crossings over the English Channel on small boats were made in 2018. Of those, 297 managed to arrive in the UK. 177 also attempted to cross between January 1st 2019 and February 28th, out of which 131 managed to reach British shores. Most of the migrants have been from Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of Africa.

    Tags:
    Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, UK Border Agency, English Channel, Migrant Crisis
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