France: 292 refugees rescued from ordeal in the English Channel

Calais. In the English Channel near Calais in France, 292 migrants were rescued Tuesday from the ordeal of wanting to cross the strait to Great Britain in small boats. Several ships of the French Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and a Navy helicopter were involved in the relief operations, the Maritime Prefecture announced on Wednesday. The rescued people were brought to the ports of Calais and Dunkirk and cared for by helpers.

This year, just under 16,000 migrants had been rescued in the English Channel by the end of August alone, far more than in previous years. A similar number made the crossing to Great Britain. The British government, which introduced a strict new immigration regime after Brexit, is a thorn in the side of illegal immigrants. London and Paris recently agreed to step up their control of the coasts.

Announcing emergency shelter for hundreds of refugees

In Calais, where hundreds of migrants are waiting to cross, efforts have been made to find decent housing in the area. The head of the French Immigration and Integration Authority (Ofii), Didier Leske, traveled to the port city as an intermediary. Three representatives of aid organizations went on a hunger strike to protest the living conditions of the migrants.

Lesche announced on Wednesday the creation of an emergency shelter for up to 300 migrants in Calais. After spending a night there, the refugees should then be distributed to places outside the city by bus, France Info reported. The mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchard, has protested against the emergency shelter. “This is out of the question,” the radio quoted her, stressing that there was no suitable place for her in the city.

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The French authorities, who regularly dismantle small tent camps, want to prevent the re-emergence of the “Calais Forest”. This refers to a veritable refugee tent city, where about 9,000 migrants were staying when the police evacuated in 2016.

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