Britain prepares to deploy army to stop migrants in the English Channel

The British military is poised to take charge of operations aimed at limiting migrant crossings in the English Channel.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Department of Defense was mandated to “protect against illegal immigration” in the English Channel.

But Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the UK Parliament’s Defense Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the Department of Defense’s spending, administration and policies, criticized the plans as “rushed” and described the plans as “a major distraction” for the military.

This step can be implemented within weeks.

UK Strike Force Commander Mike Utley was assigned to coordinate the plans.

The Ministry of Interior announced that the number of people crossing the border last year was three times that in 2020. The Interior Ministry said 197 people were stopped or rescued while trying to cross the English Channel on Saturday alone. French authorities prevented 95 people on board the five ships from making a voyage.

Defense Ministry sources told the BBC that talks about the military working with the Home Office and the UK Border Force have been going on for several weeks.

Sources said no decision has been made on how the Royal Navy or other agencies will be involved, and there is no indication that it will require the “push back” of migrant boats to France.

Interior Minister Patel, on the other hand, suggested in a speech in parliament that the armed forces could be involved in the controversial policy in question and said that it was “definitely the policy of this government”.

“This is not what our navy should be dealing with,” Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the UK Parliament’s Defense Committee, told Sky television the plan was a “major distraction” to the growing military threats from Russia and China.

One source said the details of how the military could coordinate operations are still unresolved, while another said there is “fear” within the Department of Defense about being involved in such a complex issue.

The BBC’s impression is that the overall policy on immigration and immigration management will continue to be managed by the Home Office.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson could authorize the navy over government-controlled ships in the English Channel, according to plans first reported in the Times.

Figures compiled by the BBC show that at least 28,431 migrants traveled in small boats in 2021, despite the UK’s huge investment in France to prevent crossings. This was 8,417 people the previous year.

sinking their boat on 24 November at least 27 people died, which was the biggest loss of life in the English Channel since 2014.

A**nalysis**: Mark EastonBBC

For a prime minister who promised that the Brexit deal would take back control of Britain’s borders, it is a political embarrassment that the record numbers of refugees arriving on Kent’s shores in small boats have not been stopped.

However, assigning responsibility to an admiral in operations in the English Channel would not make much of a difference.

The Royal Navy can provide better intelligence on where the inflatables and dinghies are expected to arrive, but the vast majority of those who come to England to seek refuge are already barred before they reach shore.

Plans to push small boats back into French waters are viewed as too dangerous, and the idea of ​​diverting migrants to another country has not materialized so far. The centers where immigrants are kept in Kent when they reach the country are being expanded.

The increase in asylum seekers risking the perilous journey across the English Channel is due to Covid and the increased security in Calais effectively closing traditional entry points.

Government and refugee organizations agree that the long-term solution is to create official safe routes for migrants fleeing conflict zones.

Enver Solomon, head of the Refugee Council, a charity working on immigrant and refugee rights in the UK, described the plan as “brutal and inhumane”.

Solomon described the plan as “a desperate move by a government that has failed to find solutions that would provide an orderly, manageable and fair asylum system”.