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A UK Border Force vessel rescued a group of fifty migrants who were crammed into an unstable rubber dinghy in the Channel, attempting to make the perilous journey across. Despite the offer of assistance from a French Navy warship, the migrants refused rescue, preferring to be picked up by the Border Force vessel and brought to Dover.
Video footage and maritime radio exchanges between the Border Force vessel Ranger and the warship Formentin, obtained by the Mail, revealed close collaboration between French and British authorities to ensure the safe journey of the dinghy to the UK.
The migrants reportedly declined the French navy’s rescue offer as they wished to avoid being returned to France, hoping to have a chance to claim asylum in Britain.
Their arrival in Dover coincided with the release of data from the Office for National Statistics, revealing a record-high net migration of 606,000 people to the UK last year.
Upon transferring the migrants to the Ranger, the crew expressed gratitude to the Formentin captain and his team for their support during the rescue, as heard on maritime radio communications.
Maritime charts indicate that the Formentin began accompanying the dinghy from the French coast before dawn, shortly after it departed from a beach near Wimereux, a few miles from Boulogne.
The warship remained alongside the migrants for four hours as they navigated through rough seas and winds on their journey toward the UK.
The first radio communication between the Formentin and Ranger occurred before 7 am when the dinghy was still on the French side of the Channel.
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The warship captain said in broken English: “We ask to the (migrants’) dinghy if they need our assistance. They say to me they only want UK assistance. But there is a lot of agitation on the dinghy.”
Despite the rubber dinghy still being in French territorial waters, an officer aboard the Border Force vessel Ranger offered assistance, acknowledging that the migrants were awaiting help from the UK.
The officer stated: “I understand. They are waiting for UK assistance. We are now about to effect our rescue.”
The officer advised the French warship to utilise its inflatable RHIBs (powerboats) to closely monitor the safety of the migrants until the Border Force vessel reaches a predetermined meeting point in the middle of the Channel.
Witnesses in the Channel reported that the 50 migrants were transferred onto the Ranger, while another Border Force craft later retrieved their empty black dinghy.
This comes as analysis conducted by the Press Association media agency of Home Office figures reveales the total number of individuals who have crossed the Channel so far this year is 7,395.
In comparison, last year saw a total of 45,755 crossings, while the numbers were 28,526 in 2021, 8,466 in 2020, and 1,843 in 2019.
The Home Office has projected a worst-case scenario of 85,000 arrivals via small boats for this year.
The skipper of a fishing vessel who watched the operation today said: “The migrants refuse to go back to France and even if their lives are at risk will not board a French warship in case they are returned there.
“What is incredible, is that Border Force co-operates with the migrants’ demands although they are illegally coming to Britain and many are economic migrants not refugees.”
The skipper added: “We who work in the Channel have concluded that migrants are advised by traffickers running the small boats, and making millions, that they must shout for rescue by the British so the fares get paid.
“If the migrants are pushed back to France, the traffickers are left empty-handed.”
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