UK concerned by rise in small boats crossing from France – official

Migrants and activists sail an inflatable boat in a symbolic action on the Ill River near the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, to highlight the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean, June 10, 2015. REUTERS-Vincent Kessler-File Photo

The United Kingdom is concerned by an “unacceptable” rise in the number of small boats crossing the English Channel from France and would act to return “illegal” migrants, immigration compliance minister Chris Philp said in an opinion piece for The Telegraph newspaper here.

Philp said he was going to Paris next week to discuss the issue. The UK would urge France to stop migrants from getting into boats and would also “need to intercept” those who do leave France and “return those who make it to our shores,” Philp wrote.

A rising number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel from France have led to ministers demanding tougher actions from the French government.

“The French must ensure that migrants who are caught attempting to reach the UK by boat cannot do so again,” Philp wrote.

Separately, The Times newspaper reported that UK ministers are considering blocking migrant boats in the English Channel before they can enter UK waters, modelled on tactics used by Australia against migrants, which could involve the Royal Navy and Border Force intercepting vessels as they leave French waters.

Almost 4,000 people have crossed the English Channel this year in more than 300 small boats, according to a BBC report.

Most migrants include families from countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq, among others, fleeing their homes in search of better jobs and living conditions.

Another Cabinet member in the Conservative government, finance Minister Rishi Sunak, said on Friday that people were “right to be frustrated” over migrant crossings and that the government was committed to reducing them.

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