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France rescues nearly 90 in English waters, pushes bloc to work on asylum plans

Wed 23 Sep 2020    
| < 1 min read

French rescuers plucked 88 migrants from the English Channel on Tuesday in five different operations off France’s northern coast from where they were trying to reach Britain, authorities said.

The rescues again highlighted the strain placed on European countries trying to deal with an influx of asylum-seekers fleeing war and poverty at home.

The European Union prepared to unveil a long-awaited asylum plan Wednesday that will seek to get its 27 member states to commit to sharing the handling of asylum claims from migrants arriving on European shores.

“Irregular arrivals” are down since a peak during the 2015 migration crisis, but they still number about 140,000 a year.

French rescue officials said the migrants rescued Tuesday ran into trouble in a variety of small vessels, including a kayak and other small boats carrying between three and 24 people each and launched from different points on the north coast.

All the migrants were brought to land safe and sound.

Since January 1, at least 1,317 migrants, some trying to swim across the busy waterway, have been intercepted by French authorities.

The month of August saw this year’s first drowning of a migrant trying to exit France, when the body of a Sudanese teenager trying to reach Britain with a friend in an inflatable boat was discovered on a beach.

The issue has been a source of tension, with Britain accusing France of not doing enough to stop the crossings.

French authorities insist they are doing all they can. It is part of a larger problem on which the EU stands deeply divided.

A devastating fire earlier this month at an overcrowded camp for migrants and asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos left thousands homeless, putting EU migration policy back in the spotlight.

[Sourced from AFP]