UK Home Secretary Mr Sajid Javid has asked for an urgent call with his French counterpart about the rising number of migrant crossings seen in the past few days on the British Channel as the Home Office said there was "concern that it is only a matter of time before people lose their lives."
The number of migrants trying to cross the Channel from France in the hope of being rescued before the English coast is increasing. Experts see a lucrative new business model developed by people smugglers: the migrants in the vicinity of Calais are put in rubber boats destined for Dover, only a few dozen kilometers away.
The United Kingdom remains the dream destination for the many migrants from Africa and the Middle East camped out near the French city of Calais. In order to get there they try to crawl into trucks, hoping to travel in that way.
Related coverage: France - 40 Migrants Saved Off Calais Coast
But in recent weeks, many migrants seem to be using a new tactic: crossing the Channel with boats and expecting to be rescued off the coast by the UK Coast Guard, after which they can apply for asylum.
The newspaper The Telegraph calculated that nearly 300 migrants have been rescued in this way since the beginning of November, 82 of them since Christmas and again 14 yesterday. 180 of them could eventually reach the United Kingdom, the rest was brought back to France.
Crossing is not without danger. The narrow strait between Calais and Dover is only 33 kilometers wide at its narrowest, but the busy shipping traffic, the strong current and the ice-cold water carry a lot of risks. Many migrants who are arrested show signs of hypothermia.
Yet it seems that the smuggling gangs do not stop. They seem to have found a new lucrative way of making migrants who often have to put thousands of euros on the table.
British parliamentarian Charlie Elphicke from the district of Dover says the government should deal with the increasing problem before people die. He calls on both the British and French governments to stop the smuggling gangs crossing the English Channel. The British government says it is aware of the case and shows itself "deeply concerned. We are working closely with our French colleagues to tackle these gangs that exploit vulnerable people," explained the Home Affairs office.
According to David Wood, former top official at the Department of Home Affairs, the UK faces a difficult choice. The smuggling gangs count on the coastguard to save the migrants, which creates a suction effect.
Mr Wood explained that the Coast Guard is now seen as a "taxi service that reduces the risk for organized gangs. They know that they do not have to cross the Channel completely. Until halfway is enough to be saved. "
He therefore insists that the British Coast Guard should immediately return the arrested migrants to France. If this does not happen, then the number of migrants who will make the crossing will only increase, and one day it will go wrong, he fears.
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