Calais’ new floating barrier will make Channel migration routes ‘even more dangerous’ | World | News

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The local authority in Calais installed the controversial floating barrier in an estuary that leads to the English Channel.

The barrier, which was installed on August 10, is the latest attempt to stop the number of migration routes across the Channel.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that just over 19,000 migrants have crossed this year alone.

The floating dam has already sparked controversy, with experts warning that the floating structure, made up of thick metal beams and chains, could put the lives of migrants at risk.

The yellow victory line is set by a pair of concrete anchor blocks on the banks of the river.

The Pas-de-Calais Prefecture, which established the barrier, intends to “complicate” the work of smugglers.

Authorities claim it will stop taxi boats from reaching the coast and picking up migrants with a view to crossing the Channel.

They claim that illegal migrants often wait in the water for the taxi boats and risk hypothermia due to the cold.

This comes as many smugglers had to change their journeys due to increased investigation by authorities.

Boats used to leave directly from French beaches – but this is now impossible due to the number of defenders.

Smugglers have since turned to estuaries, like the one at Étaples, to make the crossings.

Since the beginning of 2023, 22 taxi boats have been found on the Canche river, with an average of 46 migrants per boat, according to the Pas-de-Calais Prefecture.

Defending the barrier, the Prefecture said: “The activities of human trafficking networks, motivated only by profit, put migrants in mortal danger on overloaded boats that are unfit for navigation and who do not have life jackets. “

Pierre Roques from L’Auberge Des Migrants, a migrant support group in France, warned that this barrier will make the journeys more dangerous.

He said: “It doesn’t change their desire to get to the UK, it just means they have to travel further, which increases the crossing time.

“As long as England is in front of us, those people who need protection and don’t have it elsewhere will try to cross the Channel to reach the UK.”

Mr Roques has long called on the French and British Governments to work together to “establish safe corridors so that people do not have to risk their lives to cross a few dozen kilometres, which is completely absurd and cruel”.

In 2022, 45,755 people arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel in small boats, according to the Home Office.

Mr Roques dismissed fears over the number of crossings, saying: “At the end of the day, it’s small compared to the population of Europe and the UK.

“So there is no migration crisis at the moment, and all these people could be welcomed easily. “

The floating dam has been compared to the recently established barrier between the Texas border in the US and Mexico.

A fight over the 1,000-foot-long row of cabins and saw blades in the Rio Grande is currently taking place in court.

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