Sending the Royal Navy into the English Channel to deal with migrant crossings is a “declaration of maritime war”, the mayor of Calais has said.
Natacha Bouchart told France 3 that the British government must take responsibility. She called on Priti Patel’s French counterpart to push them on the issue. Her fierce words came as more refugees arrived in the UK on Wednesday 12 August.
Meanwhile, at least 19 refugees who arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats, and were due to be deported on Wednesday 12 August, have had their removals paused, the PA news agency has learned.
Interviewed on a French beach, Bouchart discussed the impact of the crisis on her city. She was asked about the Home Office’s formal request for military assistance to help tackle the crossings.
Bouchart described it as a “declaration of maritime war”. She said her city should not have to continue to suffer economically and in terms of image and humanitarian reception.
Bouchart also said that a financial package was not enough. She said:
The British Government should take care of its own responsibilities.
I am waiting for Gerald Darmanin to make the British stop this vacuum and to push the British Government to make decisions on its migration policy in its own territory.
More refugees wearing face masks and orange life-jackets were seen coming into Dover port aboard Border Force vessels on 12 August. After being brought ashore, they had their temperatures checked by officials.
Border Force and the RNLI continued to be active in the English Channel as they responded to attempted crossings on 12 August. The Royal Air Force was also providing aerial support for the Border Force for the second time this week.
A legal challenge was launched this week in a bid to halt the deportation of a group of refugees who arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats. Up to 20 people were due to be put on a charter flight to France and Germany on 12 August, according to campaigners.
The Duncan Lewis law firm said that the 19 people it was representing had all either had their removals deferred by the Home Office or stayed by a court. The firm previously said it was representing people from Iran, Yemen, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan who had “strong claims for asylum and real reasons for wanting to stay in the UK” but had been told they were being deported.
A Duncan Lewis spokesperson said:
While it is clearly good news that we ensured that 19 of our clients were not removed on the charter flight this morning, it should never have come to this in the first place.
Our legal action acted as the last resort for these asylum seekers, many of whom are victims of torture, trafficking, and sexual assault – who should not have been on this plane in the first place.
It is not clear if the flight left, and if so, how many people were on it.
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