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Migrant Crisis: UK Border Force aids in Dunkirk camp demolition

The government has deployed Border Force officers to Dunkirk, in northern France, to help in the clearance of a migrant camp.

The move comes as part of a joint effort with France to reduce the number of illegal channel crossings, many of which see the migrants land in Kent.

There have been record numbers of illegal channel crossings in the last week. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher
There have been record numbers of illegal channel crossings in the last week. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher

It is thought that more than 700 migrants including women and children have been evicted from the site.

The clearance coincides with a record number of people trying to illegally cross the channel by small boat.

In seven days, from last Tuesday to yesterday, there have been 16 migrants incidents on both sides of the Channel involving a total 187 people.

This included one day in which a record 86 migrants were picked up after or during attempts to cross.

The Home Office also confirmed that staff were sent to the camp over the weekend to inform people about the harsh realities of crossing the Channel in small boats and entering the UK illegally.

"We are determined to put an end to this reckless and illegal activity..."- Immigration Minister Seema Kennedy

The initiative, dubbed Operation Focal, sees officers countering the misinformation being spread by other sources, including organised crime groups, about making the journey and what life is like for migrants who reach the UK.

Immigration Minister, Seema Kennedy, said: “People thinking about making the perilous journey across the English Channel in a small boat are taking a huge risk with their lives and the lives of their children.

“We are determined to put an end to this reckless and illegal activity by stopping boats from leaving French shores.

"We are working closely with French authorities at all levels and the deployment of UK officials to Dunkirk is part of our ongoing joint commitment to tackling this.”

However, the news of the camp clearance has not been welcomed by everyone.

"The humanitarian consequences are particularly great given that many of those affected are families..."- Ben Bano, Seeking Sanctuary

Ben Bano co-director of Seeking Sanctuary which promotes awareness of the plight of migrants in Northern France commented:

"This latest clearance of up to 1000 migrants is is just the latest in aseries of police actions which are encouraged by the UK government

"The humanitarian consequences are particularly great given that many of those affected are families with young children, some of whom had been staying in a municipal gymnasium

"We fear that this action is counterproductive as it will just cause more people to take the the desperate step of of paying traffickers to cross the channel in unsafe and flimsy boats. "

Meanwhile people who live and work near the coast are being urged to report suspicious activity as part of Project Kraken.

Suspicious behaviour could include boats arriving at unusual times or to isolated locations, people making attempts to sign or guide boats offshore, boats showing signs of unusual modification or minor damage and people making large cash payments for maritime equipment.

People can report suspicious activity online at www.gov.uk/report-border-crime or by calling the local police on 101.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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