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United Kingdom: more than 1,300 illegal Channel crossings in one day, unheard of

As a new Prime Minister prepares to take up residence in Downing Street, this impressive figure has come to illustrate the surge in very dangerous crossings of one of the busiest sea routes in the world, constant since 2018 in the face of the foreclosure crescent of the French port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel.

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United Kingdom: more than 1,300 illegal Channel crossings in one day, unheard of

As a new Prime Minister prepares to take up residence in Downing Street, this impressive figure has come to illustrate the surge in very dangerous crossings of one of the busiest sea routes in the world, constant since 2018 in the face of the foreclosure crescent of the French port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel.

Some 1,295 migrants made the crossing on Monday aboard 27 boats, according to figures released Tuesday by the British Ministry of Defence. The previous record was from November last year (1,185 in one day).

British media have broadcast images of many migrants being rescued and brought back to the port of Dover, including babies and children, enjoying the good weather after a few days of more difficult weather.

Monday's crossing peak is "due to the weather conditions, which are optimal for crossing at the moment", noted Pierre Roques, of the Auberge des migrants, an association for helping migrants present in Calais.

For Jean-Claude Lenoir, president of the Salam association, "it's like that every day as soon as there's no wind" and "it's like that all this week".

Migrants "do not stay in France because the living conditions are deplorable," said Juliette Delaplace, from Secours Catholique. "There is always a seasonal increase in summer, because it is very difficult to survive on the streets in Calais in winter".

Monday's crossings bring to 22,670, according to the count of the Press Association agency, the number of migrants having made this trip since the beginning of the year, against only 12,500 on the same date in 2021.

Over the whole of 2021, 28,500 people arrived in the United Kingdom in this way.

A recent British parliamentary report estimated that the total could reach 60,000 people this year despite repeated promises from the British Conservative government, which has made the subject a priority since Brexit, to pay millions of pounds to France to help it strengthen the surveillance of the coasts and multiplies the measures to harden the reception of migrants.

- Providing 'safe routes' -

"The increase in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable," said a government spokesman, saying the phenomenon justified tougher migration policy.

A flagship measure of Boris Johnson's government strategy, London concluded a very controversial agreement in the spring with Rwanda to send asylum seekers who arrived illegally on British soil to this East African country.

None of these expulsions has yet taken place: a first flight scheduled for June was canceled after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and British justice is due to study the legality of the plan next month.

The candidates for the succession of Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, have promised to continue this popular policy with the members of the Conservative Party who must decide between them.

Another setback in British migration policy, the government has just abandoned its plan to convert a former Air Force base in northern England into a center for asylum seekers, as is done in Greece.

The conservative Mail on Sunday tabloid recently claimed, based on military intelligence leaks, that most asylum seekers are currently arriving from Albania, despite the country not being at war.

The NGO Amnesty International denounced "the shameful postures of the government", considering that it was necessary, to put an end to these perilous crossings, "to offer safe routes" to migrants.

At least 203 people have died or gone missing, at sea or on land, trying to reach England from the northern coast of France since 2014, including 27 in a single day at the end of 2021 in a shipwreck, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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