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France rescues 22 migrants heading for Britain

Updated

By Agence France-Presse

French rescuers saved 22 migrants who found themselves “in difficulty” on the Channel overnight in their bid to get to Britain, French maritime authorities said Sunday.

“A semi-rigid vessel with 22 migrants”, including a woman and a child, was found to be “in difficulty” off the coast of Dunkirk, a statement said.

Within an hour the migrants had been brought to shore and were taken to Dunkirk where they were handed over to the emergency services and border police, authorities added.

Migrants are taking ever greater risks to reach Britain from France, which has taken an uncompromising approach towards so-called economic migrants, who come to Europe in search of a better life in contrast with those fleeing war or persecution.

In recent days scores of migrants have been rescued in the busy shipping channel separating France from Britain.

On Thursday, 30 migrants, including 10 children and a baby, were brought to shore by French rescuers and that night a further 24 people trying to make the crossing to England in a rubber dinghy, seven of them minors, were rescued.

On the British side, 37 migrants, including six children, were intercepted near England’s south coast on Thursday.

Many of the migrants are Iranian but the authorities also regularly intercept African nationals as well as people from South Asia and the Gulf.

France has attributed the development to good summer weather, which has emboldened more migrants to put out to sea.

However such crossings remain dangerous given the heavy maritime traffic on the Channel as well as strong currents.

British interior minister Priti Patel is set to discuss this issue in the coming days with her French counterpart Christophe Castaner.

Britain currently has three Border Force cutters in the Channel.

Since January, the country has returned to Europe more than 65 people who arrived illegally in small boats, the interior ministry said.

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