Migrants: increase in the number of attempted Channel crossings in the first half of the year

Migrants: increase in the number of attempted Channel crossings in the first half of the year

Attempts to cross the Channel illegally by migrants wanting to reach England exploded in the first half of 2022, after an already record year 2021, the Interior Ministry told AFP on Monday, against a backdrop of tougher migration policy on the British side. Between January 1 and June 13, 2022, “777 crossing events and attempted crossings in small boats involving 20,132 candidates (+ 68% compared to the same period in 2021) were recorded”, according to the French Ministry of Interior.

A steadily rising failure rate

In 2021, these attempted crossings, generally by inflatable boats from the north coast between Calais and Dunkirk, had reached a “record”, with 52,000 people having attempted it and 28,000 migrants having succeeded, according to data from Place Beauvau communicated in January. “It should be noted that the rate of defeats is constantly rising with 61.39% of sea crossings prevented by the French internal security forces (+4.2 points compared to the rate for 2021) and 10,090 individuals (+ 65%) arrested since the beginning of the year,” said the Interior Ministry on Monday.

These sea crossings have become a regular source of tension between Paris and London, especially since Brexit. They peaked at the end of 2021 after the death in November of at least 27 people in the sinking of their boat in the Channel, which had sparked a skirmish between the French and British authorities over the control of this border.

Transfer of migrants to Rwanda

Since then, Great Britain has continued to toughen its tone on the subject and has in particular implemented an ultra-controversial strategy consisting of wanting to send asylum seekers who have arrived illegally on its soil to Rwanda, a country with which it has established an agreement denounced by NGOs and human rights defenders. Last Tuesday, a first charter flight which was to convey up to 130 migrants (including Iranians, Iraqis, Albanians or Syrians) to Kigali was prevented in extremis by a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), that the British government has again described this weekend as “scandalous” and “opaque”.

The plane, specially chartered for hundreds of thousands of euros, was ready to take off from an English military base when the ECHR, the jurisdiction of the Council of Europe ensuring compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, expressed his opposition. The Court based in Strasbourg considered that the British justice should examine in detail the legality of the device, which is planned for July, before deporting migrants.

However, the British government has since repeated its desire to continue this policy. “There was this strange last-minute setback in Strasbourg (where the ECHR is based). We’ll see where it leads,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday. “But we are confident about the legality of what we are doing and we will continue this policy,” he added.

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