British Royal Navy deployed to prevent migrant crossings in the English Channel
The British Government is facing its own struggle to ‘stop the boats’, with a Royal Navy patrol ship being sent to the English Channel to deter migrants from attempting the crossing from northern France.
- The HMS Mersey will patrol the Channel until Border Force boats are redeployed
- About 240 people have reached the UK in small boats since November
- The UN Refugee Agency has rejected suggestions Britain is facing a “refugee crisis”
About 240 people have reached the UK in small boats since November, and on Thursday, two men were arrested on suspicion of arranging the illegal movement of migrants across the English Channel.
The HMS Mersey will now accompany UK Border Force and French authorities who are already patrolling the area in a bid to prevent migrants from making the “dangerous journey”, the Ministry of Defence confirmed.
The navy’s involvement was requested by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who said it would be an interim measure until two more Border Force cutters arrived from the Mediterranean.
“My focus continues to be on protecting the UK border and preventing loss of life in the Channel,” he said.
Border Force currently has two coastal patrol vessels in the Channel, as well as two cutters which can rescue several boatloads of people at once.
The migrants’ continued attempts to make the crossing from continental Europe have sparked concern from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
“It seems that there may be some new smuggling networks that have established themselves in the north of France,” the agency’s Matthew Saltmarsh told AM.
“They’ve been providing dinghies and small very flimsy craft to allow the migrants and refugees to make that journey.”
Mr Saltmarsh said migrants were paying up to $10,000 and “potentially more” to cross the Channel, often without life jackets.
However, he rejected suggestions Britain was facing a “refugee crisis”.
“The real refugee crises in this world are in Africa and parts of Asia, in Central America … and Syria, of course, particularly in the Middle East,” he said.
“Those are the areas that we’re really concerned about.”