Friday, January 21

Baby among first migrants to cross the Channel to UK in 2022

A baby in a pink onesie is carried by a man, as migrants rescued in the English Channel get off a rescue boat in the English port of Dover, Tuesday January 4, 2022.Ben STANSALL

A baby in a pink onesie in the arms of a man getting off a rescue boat: this is one of the first images of migrants arriving in the UK in 2022, after a year that has seen these dangerous crossings tripled. the Channel.

The man and baby, whose image was captured on Tuesday by an AFP photographer in the busy port of Dover (south-east England), have been taken in by immigration services .

These new arrivals are seen just days after the start of the year, as the perilous Channel crossings reached record numbers in 2021.

According to the count by the British press agency PA, carried out on the basis of figures obtained from the British Home Office, at least 28,395 migrants have indeed reached the English coasts aboard small boats in 2021, more than triple of the previous year (over 8,400).

The phenomenon has developed strongly since 2018 in the face of the closure of the port of Calais (northern France) and Eurotunnel, which migrants used by hiding in vehicles.

In the month of November 2021 alone, nearly 6,900 people made the crossing despite the danger linked to the density of traffic, strong currents and low water temperature.

Some migrants paid for it with their lives, such as when the sinking of a precarious boat – the deadliest in this seaway – left 27 dead at the end of November, sparking a wave of emotion.

The illegal Channel crossings have become a real political headache for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Home Secretary Priti Patel, as the Conservative leader has made the fight against immigration his hobbyhorse, in the wake of Brexit.

These crossings are also a subject of regular tension between Paris and London, the British authorities considering insufficient, despite the payment of financial aid, the efforts undertaken on the French side to prevent migrants from boarding.

The French, who refute these accusations, retort that London is reluctant to actually untie the purse strings.

A controversial bill, which promises tougher measures against smugglers but also against migrants arriving illegally, is currently being examined in Parliament.

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