| 21 February 2024, Wednesday |

French coast guard rescues 91 migrants amid surge in Channel crossings

91 migrants who got into difficulty trying to make their way to Britain in small boats, were rescued by French authorities, amid a surge in the number of crossings.

Two lifeboats, a coastguard cruiser and a tug boat came to the aid of the migrants who were in four vessels, maritime officials said on Wednesday. Two minors were among the group, which reportedly included people from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

They were pictured being escorted off a rescue boat in Calais after their inflatable boat had begun to fill with water as they tried to cross the Channel to the UK.

The series of operations took place off the coast of Boulogne and Dunkirk in northern France.

Both ports are popular spots for people smugglers to send boats illegally into the busy shipping route.

After being brought back to land, all those taken from the dinghies were handed over to police.

The migrants’ failed attempt at making the perilous sea journey comes amid a surge in crossings due to the mild weather.

Last week a new weekly record was set, as nearly 2,000 migrants landed on UK shores in the seven days to September 10.

A total of 1,959 people made the journey from France during the period, according to the PA news agency.

And this week’s warm conditions have also attracted migrants, with several young children among a group who arrived in Dungeness, Kent, on Monday.

Immigration officers were seen tending to a woman who had been taken ill on the crossing.

They carried her away from a boat on a stretcher while the rest of the people were helped ashore by members of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Earlier this week, Border Force agents were filmed practicing “push back drills” in the Channel, a tactic denounced by France.

Officials on jet skis chased a boat at high speed before surrounding it in a bid to turn it around.

Last week it emerged that the Home Office had instructed Border Force to test the method in a bid to stem the flow of small boats from France.

  • The National News