One hundred and twenty-six migrants, including several children, were rescued at sea in the Strait of Pas-de-Calais on Friday as they tried to reach England aboard makeshift boats, said on Saturday the maritime prefecture. A first boat, reported in difficulty off Dunkirk (North), carried 43 people, including six women, two children and two babies, according to a press release from the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea (Premar).
They were recovered by a patroller of the French Navy, and taken care of by the firefighters, one of them being hypothermic, before being entrusted to the border police (PAF). Forty migrants were also rescued in the Calais channel (Pas-de-Calais), and recovered by an intervention, assistance and rescue tug. This same tug finally rescued 43 other castaways and shipwrecked people in difficulty off Dunkirk. The boat itself had called for help to “ask for assistance”, specifies the Premar. All were brought back to the port of Dunkirk and entrusted to the PAF.
More than 15,000 people have attempted the crossing since the start of the year
Since the end of 2018, illegal crossings of the Channel by migrants seeking to reach the United Kingdom have increased despite repeated warnings from the authorities who highlight the danger linked to the density of traffic, strong currents and low water temperature. According to the maritime prefect Philippe Dutrieux, some 15,400 migrants attempted the crossing between January 1 and August 31, of which 3,500 were “recovered in difficulty” in the strait and brought back to the French coast. In 2020, 9,500 people attempted the crossing, compared to 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018.
In mid-August, the sinking of a boat caused the death of an Eritrean migrant. Last year, four members of an Iranian Kurdish family died and their one-year-old child was missing before being found, according to British media, several months later on the Norwegian coast.