UK steps up efforts to stop wave of migrants crossing channel

LONDON • The UK is stepping up efforts to stop the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel by boat, as tensions rise with France about how to control a surge in crossings.

The Home Office on Saturday requested help from the armed forces in dealing with the jump in immigrants trying to gain entry into the country by making the 35km (22 mile) crossing from France. Home Secretary Priti Patel also appointed Dan O’Mahoney, a former National Crime Agency executive, to head the government’s response to the passages, the BBC reported.

Almost 4,000 people have crossed the channel so far this year in more than 300 small boats, with a one-day record of at least 235 arrivals on Aug 6, the BBC reported.

Warm temperatures and calm waters may have contributed to an uptick, with several hundred people arriving on UK shores in the past week. The migrants, hailing primarily from North Africa and the Middle East, set out in boats for the UK from French beaches.

Philp said he will travel to Paris this week to “strengthen cooperation”.

The UK will present the French with a plan for the Royal Navy and Border Force vessels to intercept migrant dinghies and return them to Dunkirk in northern France, the Telegraph reported yesterday. The French government wants the UK to contribute £30 million (RM164.1 million) to patrol efforts, the paper said.

Anti-immigrant sentiment was one of the driving forces in the campaign for the UK to leave the European Union. Patel said on Twitter on Aug 7 that when British people say they want to take back control of their borders — a theme of the Brexit campaign — this is exactly what they mean.

She said the number of boats traversing the channel was “appalling and unacceptably high”.

Patel urged refugees to seek asylum in France rather than risk their lives crossing the channel by boat. Small boat crossings are facilitated by ruthless criminals with no regard for the safety of those they smuggle. — Bloomberg