LILLE, France (AFP) — French rescuers saved 22 refugees who found themselves “in difficulty” on the English Channel overnight in their bid to get to Britain, French maritime authorities said Sunday.
A “semirigid vessel” with 22 people aboard, including a woman and a child, was found to be “in difficulty” off the coast of Dunkirk, a statement said.
Within an hour they had been brought to shore and were taken to Dunkirk, where they were handed over to the emergency services and border police.
Refugees are taking ever greater risks to reach Britain from France, which has taken an uncompromising approach toward so-called economic migrants, who come to Europe in search of a better life.
In recent days scores of people have been rescued in the busy shipping channel separating France from Britain.
On Thursday, 30 people, including 10 children and a baby, were brought to shore by French rescuers and that night 24 more people trying to make the crossing to England in a rubber dinghy, seven of them minors, were rescued.
On the British side, 37 people, including six children, were intercepted near England’s south coast on Thursday.
Many of the desperate people are Iranian but authorities also regularly intercept African nationals and people from South Asia and the Gulf.
France has attributed the development to good summer weather, which has emboldened more people to put out to sea.
However, such crossings remain dangerous, given the heavy maritime traffic on the Channel and strong currents.
British Interior Minister Priti Patel is to discuss this issue in coming days with her French counterpart Christophe Castaner.
Britain 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.
© Agence France-Presse