France rescues more than 200 migrants in Channel

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Around 15,400 migrants attempted the channel crossing in the first eight months of this year (AFP/Marc SANYE)

More than 200 migrants were rescued as they tried to cross the Channel in makeshift boats to reach Britain, French authorities said late Tuesday.

In seven separate operations between Monday and Tuesday evening, 210 migrants, including four women and a child, were rescued and brought back to the north French coast after their boats were in difficulty, they said in a statement.

They were brought back to Calais, Dunkirk or Boulogne and taken care of by the border police and, in some cases, firefighters or the maritime emergency medical service.

Increasing numbers of migrants have tried to cross to Britain by sea since late 2018, despite authorities' warnings of the dangers in the busy shipping lane, which is also subject to strong currents and low temperatures.

The approach of winter has also not deterred people from attempting the hazardous crossing.

Last Thursday, the body of a migrant was found in a waterlogged boat on a beach in Wissant, alongside two people suffering from hypothermia.

According to Vice-Admiral Philippe Dutrieux, who heads the coastal forces for the Channel, about 15,400 migrants attempted the crossing in the first eight months of this year: 3,500 of whom were recovered "in difficulty" before being brought back to France.

In 2020, around 9,500 people made or attempted crossings, compared with 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018.

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