In bid to cross to UK, migrants play cat-and-mouse game with police in Calais

French gendarmes patrol the beach in Tardinghen, France, on August 20, 2020. (Reuters)

Standing in front of the remains of dozens of inflatable craft in the backyard of a police station, Captain Eric Binet has a message for migrants considering the sea crossing to Britain: don’t risk your lives.

Warm weather and a deceptively calm-looking sea are tempting dozens of migrants to board rubber dinghies for the 30 km crossing to Dover, whose white cliffs are visible from Calais, while police try to stop them before they put to sea.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app

On Wednesday, a young Sudanese man was found dead on a French beach, the first victim this year of a new route to Britain used by hundreds of people in recent weeks.

At the Marquise police station near Calais, the engines and jerrycans full of fuel are stored inside, but piled against a wall outside is an assortment of inflatable craft confiscated from migrants in recent weeks.

Dinghies used by migrants to try to cross the channel are seen at the French gendarme brigade in Marquise, France, on August 20, 2020. (Reuters)

Dinghies used by migrants to try to cross the channel are seen at the French gendarme brigade in Marquise, France, on August 20, 2020. (Reuters)



“From here, it looks like Britain is just a hop, skip, and a jump, but that is an illusion. The Channel is a busy shipping highway, and there are violent currents,” Binet told Reuters, adding that migrants often take to sea with 20 to 25 people in an underinflated boat with an underpowered engine.

Read more:

UK coastguard rescue more than 120 migrants on seven small boats in English Channel

French coast guard stops nine migrants heading to UK in small boat

Day and night, police scour the beaches and dunes around Calais, looking for migrants hiding as they wait for the right moment, their equipment often buried under the sand.

Major Florent Decrouille, who commands a patrol on the beaches west of Calais, said his men prevent several crossing attempts each week.

Migrants leave as French police officers dismantle a makeshift shelter camp in Calais, France, on July 10, 2020. (Reuters)

Migrants leave as French police officers dismantle a makeshift shelter camp in Calais, France, on July 10, 2020. (Reuters)



A few days ago they stopped a vehicle carrying seven migrants, an inflatable boat, an engine and a can of fuel.

“It is a good thing their attempt failed, they would have risked their lives. The sea was very, very rough,” he said.

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Saturday, 22 August 2020 KSA 23:13 - GMT 20:13
Top