A group of around fourty migrants was rescued on Thursday after the dinghy in which they set out to reach Britain began to sink, French authorities and one of the fishermen who saved them informed.
Record numbers of refugees are crossing the Channel between France and Britain, often on overloaded rubber dinghies that barely stay afloat. The currents are strong and commercial ship traffic is heavy.
One person, who was unconscious and suffered heart failure, was airlifted to a hospital in Calais, French authorities said.
All the others on board, rescued by two fishing boats and French and Belgian sea and air units, were safely brought to the French port of Dunkirk, its prefecture said in a statement, adding that other rescue operations were still under way.
Mr. Nicolas Margolle, captain of the Nicolas Jeremy trawler, said his crew rescued four Eritrean men who had fallen into the cold sea. The dinghy was sinking, Mr. Margolle told Reuters. “The shipwrecked men were in hypothermia and very weak, they said they had been in the water for over three hours.”
His crew gave them warm clothes, water and food. They stayed onboard for about an hour before being brought back to Dunkirk by the French navy.
The Nicolas Jeremy crew was proud to have helped them but also in shock. Many of these people have travelled thousands of kilometres and are willing to risk their lives to go to England, he said.
After being taken to safety and receiving medical treatment, the migrants were expected to be set free and offered shelter.
Britain says it wants to make the country less attractive to asylum seekers. Under proposed legislation, those trying to enter illegally would face up to four years in prison.
There is a fear of replay of Europe’s 2015/16 migration crisis
The number of migrants illegally entering the European Union by crossing the Western Balkans has almost doubled this year, EU border agency Frontex said on Thursday, with the majority coming from Syria and Afghanistan.
Frontex said 22,600 migrants were detected illegally entering the EU via the Western Balkan route from January to July, an increase of 90% compared with the same period in 2020.
In July, the number was up 67 per cent compared with the same month a year ago, Frontex said in a statement.
Many EU member states are nervous that developments in Afghanistan, where the militant Taliban are rapidly capturing territory and forcing people to flee, could trigger a replay of Europe’s 2015/16 migration crisis.
At the time, the chaotic arrival of more than a million people from the Middle East and Afghanistan stretched security and welfare systems and fuelled support for far-right political groups.
In total, the number of illegal border crossings into the EU since the start of the year reached over 82,000, 59 per cent more than in the same period last year, according to Frontex.