13 More Migrants Attempt Sea Crossing from France Over Weekend as ‘Unprecedented’ Surge Continues

Migrant Boat English Channel
Abeille Languedoc/Twitter/Premar Manche

An MP has said the surge in “brazen” migrant boats crossing from France is “unprecedented,” as thirteen more people were rescued this weekend after attempting to cross the English Channel in inflatable boats.

Eight individuals, whose nationality is not yet knows, contacted French maritime rescue services at around 3 am on Sunday after becoming lost, French authorities said in a statement.

A search operation was triggered, with a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) craft dispatched from Dover, and four French vessels and a French navy helicopter scrambled.

The suspected people-smuggling boat was spotted ten nautical miles from the French coast at 5.20am by a fishing vessel.

Officials used a translator to communicate with them so that they could give their location and French rescue vessels were at the scene just six minutes later.

The statement, from the Prefecture Maritime de la Manche, explained the migrants were taken to Boulogne, where they were taken care of by emergency services.

The day before, on Saturday, five migrants were picked up from a small boat by French authorities off Audinghen in northern France.

The Prefecture Maritime de la Manche said a call for medical assistance raised the alert and a fishing vessel located the group. They were also brought to safety and looked after by emergency teams in France.

There has been a recent surge in migrants attempting to cross to the UK by sea, with the vast majority presenting as Iranian nationals.

Since November 9, more than 100 migrants have arrived on the Kent coast in dozens of small boats.

MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke wrote Friday: “Just last week, 48 migrants were rescued from the English Channel in the space of 48 hours, in five separate incidents.

“We’ve seen this sort of thing before – but more sporadically, and very rarely during November. To see this number of brazen attempts to break into Britain, even as winter sets in, is unprecedented and deeply concerning.”

Pascal Marconville, the state prosecutor in Boulogne-sur-Mer near Calais, claimed people-traffickers were encouraging the recent wave of crossings as they believe it will be more difficult after Brexit.

He told The Times that gangs had introduced a Brexit surcharge on would-be migrants for the crossing, hiking fees by up to 30 percent.

Lieutenant Ingrid Parrot, from the French maritime law enforcement agency, added: “It’s not an increase [in attempted Channel crossings] that we are seeing, it’s an explosion.

“We have the impression that migrants are afraid that the border will be completely closed after Brexit and they will not be able to cross at all.

“Our fear is that there will be collisions, people injured in the sea and bodies washing up on beaches and we don’t want that to happen.”


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