A total of 71 migrants, who were trying to cross the English Channel, were rescued by French and British authorities in the early hours of Thursday, officials from the two countries said.
Alerted at 4:14 am by a boat carrying 14 migrants, the Regional Operational Centre for Surveillance and Rescue in the English Channel (Crossma) called on a French Navy helicopter and a coastal maritime surveillance gendarmerie for assistance, according to a press release published by the French maritime authorities.
Rescued on board a semi-rigid boat towed to Boulogne-sur-Mer, the 14 migrants were then taken care of, in a state of hypothermia, by firefighters. They were brought to the Boulogne hospital centre, where eight other migrants, also suffering from hypothermia, who had been rescued by firefighters on a beach in Portel were also sent, according to the Pas-de-Calais prefecture.
The British authorities, for their part, announced that they had taken care of 49 people during the night, including a minor, discovered in four other boats. Crossma had initially announced that 3 boats carrying migrants had been intercepted by the British Border Force.
The rescues reflect a renewed effort to try to stop migrant crossings, according to the Guardian. The UK Home Office said last week that patrols on French beaches had doubled and drones, specialist vehicles and detection equipment had been deployed.
In a statement they said: “Illegal migration is a criminal activity. Those who seek to come to the UK unlawfully and the ruthless criminals who facilitate journeys are all breaking the law and endangering lives.
“We will always ensure we have the right resources in place to keep our border secure. A 42-metre Border Force cutter and two coastal patrol vessels are patrolling the Channel and we are monitoring the situation closely over the Christmas and new year period.”