Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

French warships witnessed ‘dropping off’ migrants to UK

Chartered Skipper Matt Coker explains shows how French authorities are aiding human traffickers

The widespread extent to which French warships are failing to intercept migrant boats and instead escorting them across the English Channel has been revealed. 

In just a few hours, when we joined a patrol on the Channel yesterday, witnessed several small boats being guided across the sea by France’s coastguard. 

These large grey militaristic vessels follow dinghies overflowing with people across vast shipping lanes.

As the boats plotted an unpredictable course the warships were forced to turn in all number of different directions to remain with them, manoeuvres which would normally be in breach of maritime rules.

Once in British waters the small boats are passed over to UK Border Force or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and rescued from the water. 

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These trips might appear to contradict the spirit of the Home Office’s £62 million deal with France to stop small boat crossings, but they are far from a secret. 

Using the app Maritime Traffic anyone can follow the routes taken by the French warships, explained Matt Coker the Chartered Skipper of the fishing boat we travelled on. 

The experienced fisherman was able to show many more examples of these escorts using the app’s data.

“The French boat patrols up and down around the coast along the coast of France,” he said highlighting one warship’s journey.

”Then at some time in the early hours of this morning, it comes round in close to the beach at Sangat and picks up a migrant boat.

“He’s then taken that migrant boat and escorted it all the way across the shipping lanes then just across the border into UK waters and he’s dropped it off.

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“He’s gone back into French waters, found another migrant boat and he’s escorted that across the border and he’s kept that going all the way through up to about three miles off the English coast.”

“It’s a sizable warship – it shouldn’t have any problems stopping a small inflatable dinghy,” he added.

Skipper Coker questioned the ethical justification French authorities had for providing this service to migrant boats, arguing that it was essentially facilitating human trafficking. 

You can watch the full video of Skipper Coker explaining these French-aided crossings above.

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