French vessels rescue 102 migrants after failed attempts to reach the UK
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French vessels rescue 102 migrants after failed attempts to reach the UK

Credit: Belga/ F.Malavolta

French vessels rescued 102 migrants in the Pas-de-Calais Strait on Saturday as they attempted to cross over to England in makeshift boats, local maritime authorities reported.

A first boat was reported to be foundering off Boulogne-sur-mer, a port in the department of Pas-de-Calais, according to a press release issued on Saturday by the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea (Premar).

Its 38 occupants were picked up by a rescue vessel and taken to the port, where they were handed over to the border police.

A second group of 60 migrants was rescued off Hardelot: 58 of them by the emergency towing vessel “Abeille Languedoc” and two by a Maritime Affairs patrol boat.

The same patrol boat later rescued four migrants off Le Dyck (Nord Department).

“All are safe and sound,” Premar said.

Attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel illegally into the United Kingdom have been on the rise since the end of 2018, despite repeated warnings from the authorities about the danger posed by the density of the traffic, the strong currents and the low temperature of the water.

Between the 1st of January and the 31st of July this year, the Maritime Prefecture counted 12,148 attempted crossings, three times the number (4,192) for the corresponding period in 2020. The tally for the whole of 2020 was 9,551, up from 2,294 in 2019.

On 12 August, a young African man died when his boat capsized off Dunkirk. In 2020, six persons met similar fates and three were reported missing, while the 2019 death toll was four.

The Brussels Times

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