Cooperation on migrants crossing English Channel

Britain and France have agreed to work together on a new plan to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel. The British immigration minister Chris Philp travelled to Paris on August 11 to urge the French authorities to implement a plan after illegal crossing hit record numbers.  

More than 200 people reached the English shore on August 7, followed by some 130 people on August 8, according to Reuters, making the number of illegal arrivals to Britain from France by sea had surpassed 4,000 so far in 2020. They include pregnant women and children. France intercepted another 1,000 people attempting to reach England this year.

Interception at sea is not the solution to channel crossings,” wrote the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) after the proposal to intercept boats and return them. Instead, they suggest “a collective response”, including saving lives, combating smuggling rings, expanding legal options, and ensuring access to protection for all those who are in need.

The Channel Tunnel, a 50 kilometres railway tunnel linking Great Britain and France, has been the only fixed link between the island of Great Britain and Europe since its opening in 1994. Thousands of migrants have long used the channel to enter into Britain in trucks or on ferries, but due to tighter security measures, the attempts to reach the UK in small boats have increased.