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30 Jan, 2020 07:14

Number of migrants trying to cross English Channel in boats explodes – French officials

Number of migrants trying to cross English Channel in boats explodes – French officials

The number of migrants who attempted to cross the English Channel in small boats exploded last year, when more than 2,700 people were rescued at sea or stopped while trying to reach Britain from France, according to a count by French maritime authorities.

The 2019 figure is more than four times larger than the previous years’ count of cross-Channel migration, maritime officials said. They could not say whether the increase in attempts to reach Britain was linked to migrants fearing that Brexit might bring tighter borders.

It was not known how many migrants successfully made the crossing, AP reported. Small vessels can easily fail in the rough waters of the English Channel, known for high winds and strong currents. The Maritime Prefecture said 74 migrants have been rescued so far in 2020.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to sneak into Britain, either through the Channel vehicle tunnel or on ferries. Both French and British customs agents and police are posted in the port of Calais.