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The Home Office seeks military help in migrant flees

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Media annotationImmigration to the sea 20 miles east of Calais was filmed by a BBC group, as the Gavin Lee reports

Defense officials are considering asking for help from the Interior Ministry to deal with migrants trying to cross the English Channel.

School Minister Nick Gibb said the government was considering using the boat to “prevent people from leaving”


It happened as more migrants were brought ashore on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Interior Minister has appointed a former executive director of the National Crime Service to a new role in leading the UK’s response to the intersections.

More than 500 people have been blocked across the English Strait in recent days, including 235 – a record in one day – on Thursday.

The Interior Ministry said at least 151 people arrived in the UK on Saturday in 15 boats. A total of 146 people arrived on Friday in 17 boats.

The Department of Defense (MoD) said it is “working hard” to determine the best way to assist, after receiving a request under the military aid protocol for civilian agencies (MACA).

  • Why did migrants cross the English Strait?
  • Record number of people migrating through the Channel in a day

Two boats carrying a total of 26 migrants arrived on the Kent coast on Saturday, and it is understood that there were also landings at Deal and Folkestone – though they have not been confirmed.

A man in a wheelchair was among those brought ashore in Dover.

French officials said 33 migrants on two troubled boats had returned to Calais.

Interior Minister Priti Patel appointed Dan O’Mahoney as Commander of the Threatening of the UK’s Clandestine Channel. He will work to make the Channel “impossible” for cross trips.

The Interior Ministry said Mr. O’Mahoney, director of the Joint Center for Maritime Security since 2019 and a former Royal Marines, will seek “tougher action in France, including measures enforced stronger, intercepted measures at sea and directly returned to ships “.

Previously, Ms. Patel said in a tweet that ministers were working to turn a “dangerous” route across the Channel into “impassable”, but added that the government faces “hurdles. Legislative, legal and operational barriers ”.

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Simon Jones

Caption image

Migrants and Border Guard officers in Kingsdown, on the shores of Kent’s English Channel

On Saturday morning, the BBC filmed a rubber boat with up to 20 people on board – including a baby, the BBC said – departing from a tourist beach in northern France.

According to BBC Europe’s Gavin Lee, the “overloaded” boat has struggled for almost an hour at the water’s edge, who said there was no indication of any oversight from the French authorities on the beach. near the port of Gravelines.

BBC correspondent Simon Jones said residents in Kent asked why the French did not carry out more coastal patrols, but the French authorities said they needed more money from the British government.

Questions have been raised about why people are not sent back to France when they arrive in the UK.

The ministers said they would press the French authorities to suppress migrants trying to cross the English Channel.

Mr. Gibb told BBC Breakfast the government is also considering using boats to prevent migrants from crossing the border.

A similar approach has been adopted in Australia, where it is being used against migrants from Indonesia.

Under this “pushback” policy, military ships patrol Australian waters and intercept migratory ships, pull them back to Indonesia or return asylum seekers in canoes or inflatable lifeboats.

MoDs typically only work within the UK if civilian institutions cannot cope with a crisis or require professional military skills.

Examples include bomb disposal specialists who destroyed giant bombs during World War II and the Army performing coronavirus testing at the height of the closeout.

So with no hint that the UK Border Force is facing tension, military planners will want to know exactly what they are expected to do without being able to resolve it. better through negotiations with Paris.

There have been rumors about the possibility of using the Royal Navy to copy Australia’s controversial policy of repelling migrant ships.

But there are no international waters in the Dover Strait to propel them back – so such an operation would need British ships entering French waters – and the official permission of their neighbors me to do it.

Not only that, it risks drowning accidents – a complete reversal of existing policies and legal obligations to fish people from the sea.

‘Political failures’

On Saturday, the MoD said it would “do everything it can” to support the government.

However, an unnamed MoD source also told PA news agency that the idea of ​​using the Navy was “completely unfounded”, and that military resources should not be used to solve “failures. politic”.

Former Labor Department secretary Jack Straw said any attempt to simulate Australia’s controversial “pushback” tactic would be ineffective and could lead to the boat’s flip.

“The point here is obvious,” Straw said, “that it requires French cooperation.

Meanwhile, Bella Sankey, director of the human rights campaign at Detention Action, condemns the idea of ​​forcing ships to return to French waters as “an undue proposition” that will face legal challenges.

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Media annotationBBC Breakfast by Simon Jones at Sea with migrants crossing the Channel

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Immigration Minister Chris Philp said migrants should be fingerprinted. However, it is not clear what the proposed level will be, as the asylum-seekers’ fingerprints are already stored in the European Union’s Eurodac system.

The migrants will know “they will face real consequences if they try to cross again”, Mr Philp said, adding that he will “negotiate hard” with French officials on how deal with border crossings.

Former UK Border Guard general manager Tony Smith said smugglers have identified “loopholes” in international law.

Mr. Smith told BBC Radio 4’s, the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention that says once a person falls under the jurisdiction of a country – such as territorial sea – the government has an obligation to rescue people. people, bring them ashore and allow them to apply for asylum. Today’s show.

However, under a longstanding EU agreement, known as “Dublin III”, the UK reserves the right to resubmit anyone applying for asylum if they may have reasonably requested in another country. on the road.

That deal will end at the end of the Brexit transition – next January – unless the UK and the EU agree to a similar deal.

The migrants were found to have departed from France

Our group arrived just before the first light reached the main tourist beach of Petit Fort Philippe near the Gravelines this morning, 20 miles east of Calais.

Within minutes we spotted more than 20 migrants carrying a rubber boat and its engines in the distance.

They were holding it overhead as they walked for 15 minutes from the sand dunes, past huts on the beach to reach the sea.

Children in the back, holding hands and wearing life jackets. When they first got into the water, they obviously had trouble.

The boat was overloaded with 21 people on board, filled it with water and returned to shore.

Several men, apparently smugglers, emerged from the sand dunes ashore and took a woman and her baby into the boat. Then they relaunched.

It looked dangerous, almost sinking, and still overcrowded despite the calm water.

In total, it took almost an hour before the boat left the dock. During this time, there was no sign of any oversight. We called the police to alert us, worried that the boat might be in imminent danger.

They told us they were on their way. Four hours later, still no sign of them was visible.

Several spotted birds on the beach have witnessed the same thing. One person told us that this was the third time this week the boat left, and each time he could hear the children crying before they got off the boat.

More than 1,000 migrants arrived on UK shores in small boats in July.

Parliamentarians opened an investigation into the increased numbers entering the UK, while Labor accused ministers of “failing to catch up on the crisis”.

French police told the BBC that they intercepted the number of migrants from boats in French waters in July this year 10 times more than the same period last year.

They say their rate of successful migrant arrests has increased from 40% in 2019 to 47% in 2020.

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