Since 1 January 2019, some 1 451 migrants have attempted to cross the English Channel. This figure is significantly higher than for the whole of 2018. Last year, the number of crossing had been 586, according to a report of the maritime prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea made public last week, on August 26.
To the 1 451 migrants already rescued since the beginning of the year, must be added the twenty-two migrants who were caught just off Dunkirk in the night from Saturday to Sunday. They had embarked on a semi-rigid boat and were soon in difficulty. Among the people on board this raft was a woman and a child, reported FranceInfo. Also, two people have been reported as missing.
The British Border Force deploys HMC Seeker and a coastal patrol vessel Speedwell to intercept the arriving rafts, which are then taken to the port of Dover. French authorities regularly alert Border Force of vessels heading towards Kent. This week alone, more than 270 migrants, including some 40 children, have been intercepted by UK and French authorities.
“There are two major risks: the one linked to the density of the traffic of this highway of the sea, with 25 percent of the world’s maritime traffic, and the other related to the strong currents, a water temperature of between 17 and 19°C, with low visibility, or even zero, during the night in foggy weather, plus the migrant’s lack of knowledge of the sea,” said a spokesman for the French maritime authority.
To fight against these illegal crossings, the British Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, will “in the coming days” meet with her French counterpart Christophe Castaner to discuss the issue.
This topic is at the heart of European concerns as migrants are not only trying to cross the Channel – many are trying to cross the Mediterranean, which is considered the most dangerous crossing for migrants.
Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) has meanwhile admitted that it had underestimated long-term migration between 2009 and 2016 by almost a quarter of a million.
The statistical agency became aware of their error after examining data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Compared to their own estimates based on the International Passenger Survey (IPS), the number is far higher.
According to London daily The Times, migration statistics in the UK are not measured by counting people entering or leaving the country or monitoring their length of stay, but through guesstimates which are derived from passenger surveys.
The inaccuracy of the ONS figures “matters because for the past nine years the UK policy debate has been fixated on a single data source, which couldn’t bear the load that it was forced to carry,” said Madeleine Sumption, of Oxford University’s Migration Observatory. She has suspected “for a while that something wasn’t quite right” with the numbers.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of the Migration Watch UK, noted: “If these [revised] figures are accurate, bearing in mind that only yesterday the ONS described them as experimental, whatever else they show, they make clear that net migration remains far too high.”
“The number of EU nationals here is apparently much greater than we had been given to believe. Meanwhile, the high numbers from outside the EU continue apace,” he told Breitbart London.
At certain entry points to the country, small spot check surveys are done at certain times of day, and passengers are asked for information about where they come from, their reasons for coming and how long they intend to stay. The ONS then extrapolates from the answers they receive to arrive at the number of immigrants.
Passengers arriving in the UK are under no obligation to speak to the surveyors or tell the truth for that matter. “It is possible for migrants to enter on short-term visas and — unless they notify the authorities of their intention to stay longer or are really, really unlucky and are picked up in a Border Force raid — stay in the UK or leave the country years later without showing up in the official records”, according to the BBC.
Mehmet believes however that Brexit will fix the problem. “Brexit is a golden opportunity to restore a degree of control yet much more will need to be done beyond that. Indeed, 30 million people wish to see reductions in immigration,” said Mehmet.
There are currently 39 932 migrants who are “subject to removal action”. These failed asylum seekers have almost doubled since 2014 and deportations have fallen by 42 percent in the past four years.
Patel has meanwhile set up an emergency immigration plan for “immediate implementation”. A government source quoted by the Daily Mail newspaper said that new measures will focus on prevention, with UK support for France in patrolling their north coast.