The UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has given the go-ahead for border authorities to force boats entering the British Channel area back into French waters, in order to prevent the irregular entry of migrants, according to local media reported this Thursday. The measure clashes with international maritime law, which requires the rescue of people at risk of losing their lives at sea.
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Border Force personnel are being trained to “turn the tide” in the sea of the small and unstable vessels in which the migrants travel. According to a statement from the British Home Office, the plan has been in the works for two years.
According to the Government, the measure responds to the increase in boats with migrants that have managed to cross the Canal this summer, but especially this week due to good weather. According to the British media, this week more than 1,500 migrants crossed the English Channel in boats, but so far this year the figure has stood at more than 12,600. The new tactic would only be used in “certain” circumstances and operational details are still being evaluated, the BBC reports.
Patel announced the new measure after holding a conversation with his French colleague, Gérald Darmanin on Wednesday, but the two could not agree on the plans activated to stop these dangerous crossings in the waters that separate England from France. After his conversation with Darmanin, Patel noted on his Twitter account that preventing these crossings is a matter “of absolute priority for the British population.”
The proposals have already been rejected by the French government. A letter published on Wednesday showed that they could not be accepted by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, claiming that “safeguard human lives at sea has priority over considerations of nationality, status and immigration policy. “The application of the measure, he warned, could” have a negative impact “on” cooperation “between the two countries. The Guardian.
Last July, the United Kingdom and France reached an agreement to prevent the number of boats crossing the Canal, by which London pledged to supply France with 54.2 million pounds (62.8 million euros) so that take measures, such as the deployment of more patrols on the French coast.
The Border Force has informed the ministers that they can only apply refunds when they consider it “safe.” In a statement, the Interior Ministry has defended that Patel had become “the first Secretary of the Interior to establish a legal basis for these maritime operations, working with Acting Attorney General Michael Ellis and experts in quality control.”