France to step up patrols against migrant boats


President Macron

Emmanuel-Macron, French President

France will step up patrols on the English Channel coast to prevent migrants from crossing to Britain illegally by boat, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

“There will be reinforced patrols at the ports of Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer as well as more surveillance of beaches and potential embarkation points,” the ministry said.

British authorities declared a “major incident” late in December after more than 60 people were rescued or intercepted over the course of a week trying to cross the English Channel in small boats.

The French ministry said that a total of 71 attempts to cross the Channel illegally had been detected in 2018, up from only 12 in 2017.

Fifty-seven of the attempts took place in November and December.

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“The increase in these attempts is notably explained by the reinforced security at the ferry port and Eurotunnel installations,” the ministry said.

Some 504 people had been involved, of whom 276 had reached the British coast or coastal waters and 228 had been intercepted by French authorities.

The vast majority were from Iran.

Migrants and refugees have for years congregated in France’s English Channel ports in the hopes of making it to Britain, often because they have relatives already living there or speak English.

“Britain and France are working on a joint action plan after a Dec. 30 phone call between French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and his British counterpart Sajid Javid,” the ministry said.

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