Migrants capsize in Channel with severe hypothermia as 21 attempt crossings

11 July 2020, 19:18

The four migrants were brought to shore in Calais
The four migrants were brought to shore in Calais. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Migrants have been rescued with severe hypothermia after their boat capsized in the English Channel, as several groups attempted crossings.

The individuals were spotted by a passing passenger ferry on Saturday. 

At least 21 migrants in three boats were intercepted and brought back to France after attempting the perilous journey.

The French Navy was dispatched along with the UK Border Force.

French authorities took the four migrants with hypothermia ashore to the port of Calais and said they are now safe and well.

But officials stressed the dangers of crossing the narrow strait between the UK and the Continent.

It follows reports that French authorities have dismantled a migrant camp near Calais, resulting in more than 500 people being moved on.

Priti Patel on increased migrants coming to the UK

Clare Moseley, founder of humanitarian charity Care4Calais, said: "These continual evictions increase health risks - destroying possessions removes people's ability to keep warm and dry, sleep properly or cook for themselves.

"The effect on their mental health is equally stark, causing depression, self-harm and suicide.
"Evictions are pointless and simply don't work. This approach has been followed for 10 years with no perceivable impact.

"It was claimed that the demolition of the large Calais jungle in October 2016 would stop people coming to Calais to cross the Channel, but it did not."

Ms Moseley claimed the eviction was a "direct response" to Home Secretary Priti Patel's calls for action following recent Channel crossings.

The migrants suffered severe hypothermia
The migrants suffered severe hypothermia. Picture: PA

Speaking on Monday, Ms Patel said migrant crossings are a "complicated issue" and the English Channel has become "far too viable for criminals", with people smuggling gangs known to profit from crossings. 

On this year’s May Bank Holiday, UK Border Force officers intercepted a record amount of migrants making crossings - 145 in a single day. 

Some 943 migrants were smuggled into England via the Channel between 23 March, when Britain’s lockdown was imposed, and 9 May. 

The Channel is the busiest shipping lane in the world and conditions can be treacherous for small boats even when the weather is calm.