The British Government on Sunday tasked a former Royal Marine with curbing illegal immigration through the English Channel following a spike in the number of migrants crossing over from France.
Dan O’Mahoney’s main responsibility will be to make the English Channel “unviable” for crossings in small boats, the British Home Office announced in a press release. He will collaborate closely with the French authorities on joint work already in progress, while closely exploring stronger action with France, added the Home Office, which wants more boats to be intercepted and taken back to the French coasts.
“The number of illegal small boat crossings is appalling,” Home Secretary Priti Patel is quoted as saying in the press release. “We are working […] to make this route unviable by arresting the criminals facilitating these crossings and making sure they’re brought to justice.”
Attempts to cross the Channel have increased recently, due in part to favourable weather conditions. Over 500 migrants made the crossing into the United Kingdom in just three days.
The number of boats and migrants intercepted between January and July 2020 while trying to cross the Channel is about five times as high as the corresponding period of last year, France’s Interior Ministry told the French news agency, AFP. In July, ten times as many crossings were prevented than in July 2019 and four times as many boats and equipment were discovered in coastal dunes.
Additional resources have been deployed to deal with the increase, the Ministry said.
A plan against illegal sea crossings, worked out in consultation with the British authorities, is also being finalised with a view to stronger monitoring along the coasts and around the main crossing points, the ministry added.