PARIS (Reuters) – The number of people departing from French shores to cross the English Channel by boat has dropped this year as French security forces have ramped up land interceptions of convoys trying to reach the coast and fewer Albanians are making their way to Britain, according to the French coastguard and UK Home […]
French coastguard records 30% drop in small boat departures via English Channel
PARIS (Reuters) – The number of people departing from French shores to cross the English Channel by boat has dropped this year as French security forces have ramped up land interceptions of convoys trying to reach the coast and fewer Albanians are making their way to Britain, according to the French coastguard and UK Home Office.
Since the beginning of the year, 34,000 people have attempted to make the sea crossing, compared to 52,000 in 2022, a drop of 30% .
“This is linked to the intervention of the security forces, we are doing a lot of interceptions on the coast, a lot of interceptions on land before they reach the water,” Veronique Magnin, spokesperson for the French coastguard, told Reuters.
The numbers recorded by the French coastguard refer to the number of departures from the French coast to cross the Channel, including those departures that were intercepted at sea or may have drowned, Magnin added, highlighting they are distinct from arrival figures provided by the British authorities.
The UK Home Office recorded a 16% drop this year in arrivals to Britain via the Channel on small boats. In the year ending September 2023, 37,556 people arrived to British shores in this way, compared to 44,490 in the year ending September 2022.
They put this down to a reduction in the number of Albanians making their way to Britain and better cooperation with the French. Arrivals of nationalities other than Albanian are up by 9%. Migrants
The French NGO Utopia 56, which supports migrants in the Calais region, has observed a rise in interceptions by police, however many will try again after.
“It is very hypocritical, everyone who is stopped will eventually pass and the impact we see is that due to these interceptions the journeys are becoming more dangerous,” said Nikolai Posner, who manages communications for Utopia 56.
People now leave from further south, which doubles the distance of their sea journey, and smugglers have started loading boats with around 60 people, instead of an average of 40 last year, Posner said.
He added that the cost of the crossing – around 2000 euros – has remained stable.
The Channel is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and currents are strong. Human smugglers typically overload the dinghies, leaving them barely afloat and at the mercy of waves as they try to reach British shores.
(Reporting by Layli Foroudi and Pascal Rossignol; Editing by Aurora Ellis)