As record numbers of migrants are attempting the perilous sea crossing into the UK in dinghies, the finger of blame has been pointed at France for assisting what has been dubbed an “invasion” of illegals, reports The Times.
The reports came after French border patrol ships were captured on film escorting the small boats packed with migrants crossing the Channel.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage chartered a fishing boat on 20 May to substantiate his accusation that the French navy was escorting illegal migrants into UK waters.
Farage “rescued” over 20 migrants who were floundering in two boats that were taking in water.
Slamming the “invasion”, he tweeted that it was time to act to put an end to the practice.
I just witnessed the French Navy escorting illegal migrants into British waters, despite the money we are paying them.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 20, 2020
They even tried to prevent us from filming the handover, as you can see in the video.
This is an outrage and a scandal. Time for the government to get a grip. pic.twitter.com/hT8ctbZag5
For anyone that doubts me:— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) May 20, 2020
Here is the proof that the migrant boat on my film today was escorted from the French coast into UK waters by the French Navy.
This is a national scandal. pic.twitter.com/AwfXJ2W69L
Border patrols explain that migrants typically threaten to throw themselves or their children into the water when attempts are made to apprehend the boats to make them turn back.
“HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, 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 Maritime and Coastguard Agency that oversaw the rescue on Wednesday was quoted as saying.
French officials said in April there had been 79 attempts by migrants to cross into the UK – more than in any previous month on record, while charity workers at migrant camps on the coast of northern France claim people are particularly desperate to cross into the UK amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to accusations that authorities assist the boats with migrants once they had left the beaches, Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union said that the British and French authorities had little other choice.
“The first rule of maritime law is preservation of life… If we or the French intercept in a manner that causes someone to lose their life we will be criticised.”
As the travel restrictions currently in place due to COVID-19 have closed off some of the routes that migrants previously used to reach the UK, such as trucks going through the Channel Tunnel, there has been a tremendous surge in attempts to cross into the country by sea in small boats, with the number of unaccompanied young migrants also spiking.
At the major port of Dover, located in Kent County, the city council's chief executive Roger Gough says if last year they were dealing with around "230 to 250" young migrants, the numbers have doubled.
"It's now nearly 470 and new arrivals are coming in all the time," he was quoted as saying by AFP.
So far this year, around 1,500 migrants have been detected attempting to cross by boat into the UK, while during the entire 2019 the number was 1,890.
In an attempt to deter more arrivals, Britain has been together with France to send back more migrants arriving by boat.
“We will be doing much more to enforce this whole principle of if you come from a safe country, you will be going back to that safe country,” Home Secretary Priti Patel was cited as saying by LBC on 20 May.
Patel has been negotiating over the past few weeks with French authorities, seeking a deal whereby migrants intercepted crossing the Channel would not be brought to Dover or allowed to step onto UK soil.
Instead, Border Force vessels would return them to French ports, with UK government ministers proposing to extend extra funding to the French for additional forces and equipment along the coast.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton, who sits on the home affairs select committee, was quoted by the outlet as saying there was only one effective method for stopping the flow of crossings into the UK, and that was if migrants who had no convincing legal reasons to stay knew they would be promptly returned to France.
“It would act as a big deterrent,” said Loughton.
Deploring perceived insufficient efforts by the French to deal with the situation, the MP said:
“The French need to beef up their efforts to stop the boats setting out in the first place. They also need to be far more serious about rounding up the people smugglers involved in this.”