Dangerous migrant routes for Britain

The migrant disaster in the Channel, in which at least 31 people drowned, underscores the dangers of trying to reach England from France on small boats.

new wave of crossings

There has been an increase in the number of attempts by migrants to cross the Channel in small boats since late 2018.

More than two decades ago, migrant camps began to be built near northern French ports, with new camps emerging as soon as the police removed them.

With security at the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel and 34 kilometers (21 mi) away from England, migrants who had been hiding in lorry trailers or the shoes of cars in the past had to try other methods. ,

The number of crossings has doubled in the last three months, despite the bad weather.

spiral number
According to French officials, 31,500 people attempted to sail to Britain since the beginning of the year, of whom 7,800 were rescued at sea.

The rescue rate has doubled since August.

Britain says at least 25,700 people have made the trip in the first 11 months of the year, three times the number last year.

Only 9,500 people attempted the crossing in 2020, 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018.

The issue has been a thorn in the side of relations between Britain and France, already soured by Brexit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday accused Paris of not doing enough to stop the crossing, despite London paying 60 million euros to police the French coast.

overloaded boats
Crossings happen more often than not in overloaded oversized boats. Wednesday’s tragedy occurred on an inflatable of the type increasingly used by smugglers since June.

Fran├žois Guenoc, who runs a migrant shelter in Calais, says the cost of crossings is around 2,000 euros per passenger, as prices fall as smugglers become more organized.

The Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and small boats have to navigate between merchant ships, fishing boats, yachts and ferries.

The weather conditions are often difficult, especially in winter, with fog as well as storms, with boats weaving between 600 ships a day.

Organized crime

French Interior Minister Gerald Dormanin says France has arrested 1,500 smugglers since the beginning of this year.

He said that they operate like mafia organizations in highly organized crime groups using encrypted telephones.

On Monday, French police said they had sabotaged an international network of smugglers sending around 250 people to Britain per month from a camp near Dunkirk where the craft that sank in the Channel on Wednesday had gone.

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