The UK will start to see “bodies washing up” on its beaches this summer if authorities grant asylum to the Albanian migrants who were caught trying to enter the country by boat this week, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has warned.
Last Sunday, 18 Albanians were rescued from a sinking dinghy off the coast at Dymchurch, Kent. Five of them have now claimed asylum, with the remaining 13 facing deportation.
Speaking in a referendum debate for the Express.co.uk website, Mr Farage said: “There were 18 people from Albania, they are currently in Dover as I understand it.
“Five of the 18 are now claiming asylum and I fear if we grant asylum status to people from a prospective member of the EU, we send a signal to traffickers and gangs – take that risk come here and you have every chance of staying.
“I can promise you the straits of Dover is a risky place. If we don’t make sure all 18 are deported we will have drownings and bodies washing up on Kent beaches all summer.
“We must, must, must deal with this.”
The French Coastguard warned last week of migrant drownings in the English Channel – the busiest waterway in the world – following the discovery of the Albanian migrants.
Bernard Barron, president of the French Coastguard, said: “It’s starting to become a very similar situation to that seen in the Mediterranean and my biggest fear is that the same kind of tragedies we see in Greece or Italy will start to repeat in the Channel.”
He added that since security had been tightened around the Channel Tunnel it has become “virtually impossible now for migrants to cross into the UK through the Tunnel or on car ferries”.
Describing the smugglers’ new tactics, he explained: “They operate across the length of both the French and Belgian coastlines, between Ostend and into Normandy, finding new positions from where they can send their clients — the migrants — towards England.
“These smugglers — despite being given large sums of money — provide methods of transport for the migrants that are not suitable for crossing a sea like the English Channel. It’s a sea filled with danger, with strong currents, storms and heavy traffic of larger vessels.”